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“Pinnawella Elephant Orphanage”

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
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$462.75*
and up
5 Day Sri Lanka Tour
Ranked #1 of 4 things to do in Pinnawala
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Reviewed January 24, 2013

It is amazing watching these beautiful animals playing in the river and sliding on the muddy river banks (hilarious!). For an additional tip you will be allowed to touch the young elephants and make pictures with them. It is worth visitng as there are not many place where you will be able to see so many elephants together in one place.

Thank Qrnick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,280 - 2,284 of 3,435 reviews

Reviewed January 24, 2013

If I could give it less of a rating I would.

Firstly this is not an orphanage at all, that is a scam to get tourists in. The whole place is exploiting elephants that have been in this place for years, and are being born into this hell. All day long the elephants are dragged by spears for tourists to take photos and for the rude and aggressive staff who go on and on and on trying to persuade you to take advantage of these huge, beautiful, intelligent creatures as they are.

As you can see any positive reviews of this place are from selfish people who are so happy to touch or get close to an elephant but clearly couldn't care less about their welfare. These are the people that I must have seen posing and smiling in front of an old, blind, elephant who is tied by a chain to a wooden column, unable to move more than a foot. I know that this particular elephant has been here for at least 20 years tied up, most probably longer.

Other elephants are also chained up constantly within the reserve, even in the water when they are taken down to drink. Various stories come from the workers about why this is occurring, all of them different, none of them matter, as it's quite clear that when the doors are closed these elephants are treated even worse than how we see them treated. I can't bare to imagine, but the fear in the eyes of the elephants, both grown and infants, when they run away scared from the staff here makes it quite clear that they have been beaten by these spears and sticks before to make them behave in such a manner.

Elephants are animals that are constantly munching away at grass also as they walk along and I could see scarce food for these elephants, they are fed once a day, one guy told us, this isn't enough and so all day long the able sighted elephants spend their time trying to steal from the blind elephant, who is given an abundance of food, is surrounded by leaves, that he doesn't want, but is given by tourists who will then be goaded into paying the incessant workers there a fee.

As well as all this, this is one of the highest one off payments for an excursion that I paid for in the whole country, one I so regret seeing, £10 to see these elephants or £8 (even less if you can haggle further) to go on a safari, in protected land, where hundreds of elephants roam freely, and happy, amongst the jungle with greenery to munch on until their hearts content. And iff all of these elephants can do it this so called orphanage is a complete unnecessary disgrace. Being inside this place made me so angry, it was the worst town I visited, I had found the people all over the country to be friendly, here they were exploitative, pushy and rude.

I am so sorry that I saw this place but if my review makes people not visit, then it would have been worth it, I took hundreds of photos of the place and tried to capture how badly the elephants are treated, please see the few selected below.

If you want to see elephants in Sri Lanka see them on safari, they look so much happier and content and they are free and left alone to do what they want to do, they are not here for our amusement, to be tied up for years on end, uncomfortable, these elephants are just prisoners that are being exploited completely, it is not an orphanage, it is just a zoo, where for a fee and the cost of an elephant's freedom you can touch an elephant or have your picture taken with them. I heard visitors reciting how it's better from them here they are protected from poachers, I know that I would rather be dead, not chained up by metal chains that have been there for so long, my leg now has a space for them to fit into, or being constantly dragged about by a man with a spear in my head.

But they don't have to be dead either, they could be put back into the wild, where I'm sure they were snatched from in the first place and put into this reserve, they certainly are not orphans.

17  Thank Maria K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 23, 2013

It was my first experience with elephants, so for one hand I loved it. I really enjoyed seeing their river bath, they were with happy and relaxing behaviours.
But on the other hand I was disappointed, first because some of them were in bad conditions, always with chains and expressing many signs of captive stress, it was painful to see.
Even the hose bath of the little ones was doubtful, I couldn’t understand if they enjoyed it or if they were obliged by the handler.
I also noticed that many elephants had serious diarrhea, I suppose they don't treat them.

Please DON’T GIVE TIPS!
This must come to an end, they have signs in the entrance not to give tips and never the less that place is all about tips: to make a foto, to feed them, to touch them. Let them be at peace, enjoy looking at them and help stop this parallel business that doesn’t help the elephants.

6  Thank TCRibeiro
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 23, 2013

Just brilliant to see so many elephants of all ages wondering aorund. Our guide who took us there steered us away from the staff looking to make a few pennies and as such we were able to do so much with them. He had even arranged for the "golden ticket" so my wife could feed one of the baby elephants and although I knew this would have been in the price I had no problem with that. One up for Ruuchi Tours!!!

1  Thank Patrick M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 23, 2013

We have been to several elephant attractions in thailand which were very good but this one is just a money machine for the handlers as soon as you are in the park the handlers are prodding the elephants with spikes to get them closer to you so you can have a photo taken next to them as soon as you have taken a photo out comes the hand for money from the handler this happened throughout the visit in the end you are to scared to look at an elephant because you know if you do there will be a handler behind you pestering you for money.
All the money the handlers pester you for goes in there pockets and not to the orphanage we were also told we would be able to feed the baby elephants but in fact these were not baby's and were chained up and rocking backwards and forwards like they were going mad and as usual as soon as you had fed them out came the hand of the handlers begging for money all in all i would not recommend this trip you may as well go to a zoo.
The toilets on site were disgusting and as usual if you needed any toilet paper there was a lady or man outside willing to give you some for a tip of course.
When they took the elephants down to the wash area it was the same situation pestered by beggars and handlers for money nice to see the elephants in the river but be prepared to be hassled for money.

5  Thank Simon M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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