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“More of a zoo!” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Ranked #1 of 2 things to do in Pinnawala
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Attraction details
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Mandria, Cyprus
Level Contributor
116 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
“More of a zoo!”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 17, 2012

It was evident the elephant's at Pinnawala were being very well cared for, though I have to say the Orphanage felt a lttle more like a zoo than an orphanage - perhaps I'm splitting hairs.
It was great to be able to get close to so many Indian elephants: there were approximately 80 elephants in the orphanage when we visited.
Give it a go :-)

Visited November 2012
Thank AlnLes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Do not go here- cruelty abounds”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 12, 2012

Hi, Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage is a cruel place- and is no orphanage. They send elephants to circuses and an elephant died last year at the hands of a staff member (who brutally attacked it). This is no place to promote or put your money towards. If you are looking for an elephant rescue centre in Sri Lanka- try Millenium Elephant Foundation- just not Pinnawala

Visited April 2012
6 Thank Nataliek88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Ripoff! Don't spend money for admission!”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 12, 2012

Instead of spending the money to go inside the park, just wait out front to see the Elephants parading down the street to the lake and be up close to them at the lake. I've been to many elephant sanctuaries around Asia and this government run orphanage is a downer.

The mahouts are very greedy and will try to squeeze any money out of you for any price. For foreigners who don't do the research on trip advisor, be aware that you do not need to pay any money for taking a picture with an elephant!!

Feeding the elephant, or bathing the elephant at the park is also a major rip off. You'll spray the elephant for 5 seconds with water and take a picture, thats it! You'll also get to shove milk down the babys throat for 5 seconds as well.

Instead ask your guide, driver, or someone in the neighborhood about local elephant owners in the neighborhood who offer these perks. For a cheaper price you'll get to feed, bathe, or ride their elephant for as long as you want for an up close and personal experience. From what our driver told us, it's about 10 US Dollars to bathe and feed them.

Also be aware of beggers nearby that will hold your hand to do a fake palm reading and then ask for money!

Visited November 2012
1 Thank StaceyLAKBAI
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Level Contributor
80 reviews
45 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
“A nice short experience”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 12, 2012

We passed by there on our way from Kandy to the airport .. The place is very smelly! We chose the shortest experience, as we didn't have time .. There are 3 in general .. We had a little tour, watched the elephants taking a bath, we rode the elephants which was an AMAZING experience, & then we fed them fruits :) .. In general, it's a lovely interesting thing to do, especially if you have kids ..

Visited October 2012
Thank Dima S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
98 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
“Mixed feelings...”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 11, 2012

I had a mixed trip here some good points some bad:

I arrived early before the park opened and the guide suggested taking an elephant ride. The ride was a little scary at first, its a LONG way down!! But the elephant walked incredibly slowly so felt safe. I asked for a half hour ride in which we went up a lane, back again a very quick paddle in the water and then that was it (I'm sure it was more like 15-20 minutes but I was pretty happy to have both feet on the ground). A half hour ride was 5,000 rupees and an hour ride would have been 10,000 - quite a lot in my opinion. But that was all fine my gripe here was with the staff. As soon as I had paid for the ride the guide was harrassing me to give the person who looked after the elephant a tip of 500 rupees. I really do not appreciate being harrassed in to doing something against my will, may be this is because I'm not from a 'tipping culture' but all the same I think it should be up to the individual on whether you give a tip or not. Anyway this man would not go away and I parted with a 500 rupee note. Then he held out his own hand repeatedly saying "tip" "tip" apart from a few 20 rupee notes I only had 2000 rupee notes and I'll be blown if I was giving him that. I gave him a bunch of 20 rupee notes and got away as fast as I could. I even wouldn't have minded so much had he been an informative guide but most of the time he was far ahead spitting on the ground. But I have to be fair to him he did take a couple of nice pictures....

I then paid 2000 rupees for entry into the orphanage. We went to see the elephants being fed this was lovely to see them interacting in a more wild way however again you were constantly harrassed by staff trying to get you to have your picture taken next to an elephant so they can have a tip. This continued for the whole visit, I understand this is the way they operate and also how the make money but it made me feel uncomfortable and pressured. I learnt not to make eyecontact and to ignore them if they talked to you.

I got taken on a tour of a botanical garden where there were some coco trees and cinnamon trees. I could tell this was the prelude to a sales pitch so I made it quite clear I wouldn't be buying anything to which he then just walked off.

After this we got to see the elephants bathing in the river and for me this was the absolute highlight. This is what I came here to see elephants playing and interacting with each other not the guides. There were some adorable young elephants who obviously loved bathing time and enjoyed every second.

I would love to see elephants again but would only go if it was a more wild environment, I love seeing them behave naturally not chained up. The elephants looked healthy and happy (to my eyes) so I'm not insuiating that they are poorly treated at all, I would just prefer to see them at a distance in future where they can play normally and I am not harrassed every few minutes by staff.

Just to add I do tip but where I feel the service warrants it but I hate doing it because I have been pressured into it.

Visited November 2012
Thank Holly B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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