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“Very disturbing!”

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
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 October 7, 2013

This is animal exploitation. Be aware that you will encounter young, frightened elephants rooted to the spot by chains in order to give visitors the privilege of 'feeding the orphans' (which is a 3 second experience). The animals are terrified of the stick wielding guards who take every opportunity to trick the guests into handing over more money. The place is run in an unethical manner, it is unworthy of its orphanage name, it is dangerous and exists for one reason only - the exploitation of innocent animals and gullible visitors. My advice - stay away!

5  Thank JohnP1649HX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,079 - 2,083 of 3,391 reviews

Reviewed October 6, 2013

I witnessed one mahout punching the lead elephant in the trunk repeatedly to try and get her to turn away from a calf so he could make the calf hurry up across the road. The last elephants in the road crossing were also hit with the ankus to get them to move which was distressing the calf's. The elephants were crossing from the river back into the main "orphanage" but they were not wet so I assume they were not allowed to bathe properly. Also the elephants tail hair is plucked to make bracelets which is not on.

4  Thank McFly_Mad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 5, 2013

Visited this as part of our 17-day Bunnik Tours.
We stopped for lunch at a hotel that overlooked the river and it was here that we were able to watch the elephants enjoying themselves in the water.
They were then recalled back to the Elephant Orphanage compound by 3 blasts on a bull horn.
After lunch we walked across to the Elephant Orphanage and . . .
watched as 3 baby elephants were chained up so that the tourists could feed them!
The youngest was so distressed it shate everywhere. The oldest of the 3 was continually trying to break its chain so that it could reach the greenery that had been left on the ground just beyond its reach!?!
Because the monks have said that they can't kill any of the elephants, and these live for 70-odd years . . .
there is one there that has a leg shorter than the other because of stepping on a land mine, consequently its back is hunched and the adjacent left is severely bowed to compensate!
You could pay extra Rupees and feed the pregnant elephant; we didn't.
If you walked up to the top of the hill you were then able to view the herd of over 80-odd elephants.
Off to the far left was an elephant, and several others, continually swaying, the effect of an environment that does not challenge them to keep active or where there is a lack of stimuli.
Off to the right, slightly behind where you would be standing was an elephant chained up, something which should only occur for no more than 4 hours / day.
Overall the experience was unsettling, yet on the other hand where else or what else can they do . . .

1  Thank Robyn E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 4, 2013

I worked 5 minute on another an elephant safari, part of the Pinnawala orphanage group for three weeks. I visited the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage a few times during my trip and it was wonderful! To see all the elephants together, then walking with them to the water and watching them in the water! It was amazing! You can also feed a baby elephant for 250 rupees! (£1.25!) If you visit here you should also visit the tea factory just down the road!! Good for the whole family! I imagine the hotel looking over these beautiful creatures is good also, although they are only in the water twice a day.

1  Thank Steff_1991
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 4, 2013

The area is big and the elephants are properly fed though chained up. Glad to know there is a place for them where they are taken care of. :)

1  Thank KIM C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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