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“Elephant Orphanage Sri Lanka”

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
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5 Day Sri Lanka Tour
Ranked #1 of 4 things to do in Pinnawala
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Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Reviewed February 21, 2013

This was a delightful visit. The elephants are so close you can touch them. They are curious and playful and fun to watch. Yes, they try to get you to buy bottles to feed the elephants but you can politely walk away. Make sure you get down by the river in time for the elephant bath if you go in the morning. It is fun to watch them all come down the street and then romp in the river. One old elephant decided to lay down and take a nap in the river while a young one tried to escape from the crowd. It was as much fun to watch the tourists as it was to watch the elephants.

1  Thank intnltrvlr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,266 - 2,270 of 3,437 reviews

Reviewed February 19, 2013

We went to see an elephant orphange. To see elephants who had been rescued and being cared for. NOT THE CASE!!
To start with one price for Sri Lankan people, (200 rupees) one price for foreigners, (2000 rupees)

Then when you go in to see the elephants especially at feeding time, a few are kept on a concrete floor under cover, chained up with the food just out of reach, you are then asked by the handler for 500 rupees to feed the elephants! There are baby elephants who are teased with a bottle again the handler asks for 500 rupees to feed the elephant ( even after you have paid at the gate 250 rupees to feed the elephants. )
There is one area where an elephant is chained up close to a log stage, if you climb the stage you can feed the elephant a piece of fruit again at a cost of more rupees.

There is a large area where older elephants feed together on open land! A mass of leaves and what seems an excessive amount of elephant dung covering the area, keepers then come and grab your hand saying come,come see the babies. You are lead into the middle of the elephants, told to hold a wooden pole and your camera is taken from you, they take your photograph and then demand 2000 rupees before they hand your camera back.

In one area behind the toilet block there is a large elephant chained up stood on a piece of concrete and surrounded by rubbish, the elephant rocking backwards and forwards obviously distressed.

It is nice to see the elephants in the river but most still have chains around their ankles some cutting into their flesh.

It was a very distressing day. We have no objection to paying a fair price if the money is going to care for the elephants but its just like a badly run circus, a money making ploy with little regard for the elephants.

How anyone could enjoy what they where seeing amazes us as it was just awful. NOT a place for families.

11  Thank GCK93940
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 17, 2013

This place is quite simply dedicated to extracting as much money as possible from tourists.
It lays claim to being an orphanage and it is probably true that a few of the elephants were orphaned but very few and, frankly, how would you know that the small elephant on display "fell down a well and was rescued by a local farmer because its parents abandoned it"?
The elephants are driven down to the river in groups at the point of a very sharp stick so that they can be seen bathing and so that their handlers can hustle tourists for having their photos taken with them. Then they are driven back past the tourist shops to be fed. They display crippled elephants like some freak show and many are in chains.
In Sri Lnka there are some 6,000 wild elephants in much, much better condition than those in the orphanage and it is not hard to see them. We saw several beside the road driving between Dambullah and Kandy and there are a number of safari trips available where you can see herds of them.

5  Thank agedtrundler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 16, 2013

We made it in time for the 9.15 am feeding, and there was a 9 month and 10 month old baby elephants who were being bathed seperatedly in a little pond before feeding. They were loving being in the water. I don't understand why they needed to be chained - or some other elephants who were chained. Maybe it is to ensure that thhey don't run wild? But it is a sanctuary?? The charge for foreigners is Rs.2000 (appox £10) and local rate is Rs.100 - Seems a little unfair - but it is calculated against earning power in Sri Lanka so that makes some kind of sense. But after paying for your ticket, if you wanted to feed the elephants you have to pay extra the caretakers?? Somehow that does seem wrong. See the following link for feeding times and details

Bathing time, was lovely to see this heard of elephants walking down to the river and getting in - although it was the babies who seemed to emnjoy it the most, and the adults looked like they wanted to be elsewhere. Do leave soon after the feeding and make your way down to the river along the path directly opposite the sanctuary gates. Retain your ticekts -you will need them to go through the barrier furthe ralong. Then pick the hotel on the right hand side (it has a huge elephant as its entrance) and sit along the tiered seats facing the river to wait for the elephants to come down the path.

Do visit the elephant dung paper museum opposite the sanctuary.

All in all it was nice to see these majestic animals - but I felt that there isn't enough care given to them.

P.S. be aware of the extortionate prices at nearby places offering elephant rides. In particular the Millenium Elephant foundation - which charges a min Rs.2500 for a 5-10 minute ride around the small area with a v.sad looking elephant, and charges a min Rs.1000 just to enter the place if you don't want a ride (which we had to pay just to take a photo of our friend having her elephant ride). It has a small area which they term ' a museum' - not worth it at all. Actually not sure where this money goes to? Ofcourse for a one off chance to ride an elehpant I'm sure its fine...but I beleive there are better places like in Sigiriya for an elephant ride.

1  Thank PurplewallLondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 15, 2013

Such a wonderful place to see so many Elephants. I was there 5 years ago and remember feeeding a young elephant with only one ear, so I was so thrilled to see him again grown up now playing witha very young elephant. I could sit there all day watching them down at the river as they are so enjoyable to watch. This time we saw two very young baby elephants with a sad story, however they are both doing well and adjusting to their new safe life at the orphanage.I aggree with another comment someone made that the handlers take advantage of the tourists wich does spoil it a little. This was definatly the highlite of my trip to SriLanka !!!!!!

Thank Anne0206
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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