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“Disgraceful and inhumane! Do not support this!”

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Ranked #1 of 3 things to do in Pinnawala
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Attraction details
Useful Information: Activities for older children
San Francisco Bay Area
Level 6 Contributor
104 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
“Disgraceful and inhumane! Do not support this!”
Reviewed December 30, 2013

We were SHOCKED by the treatment the animals received here. Our driver warned us that this was "touristy" but we needed a break during the long drive and love elephants. We witnessed the cruelty described in previous posts, where animals were whacked with pronged posts. I hope that animal rights groups discover this scandal and get in there to save the animals. I was in tears when we left.

Visited December 2013
4 Thank Ciccibella
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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London, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Orphanage or circus?”
Reviewed December 29, 2013 via mobile

An hour and a half by taxi from Kandy, it was not worth risking your life on the crazy roads with the suicidal drivers.

I didn't appreciate the keepers who urge you to have your photos taken with the elephants and then demand a tip even though you had just paid a special tourist tariff to get in. I also didn't like how the baby elephants were tied up on short chains, in obviously distress watched by a curious mob.

However, there is a road opposite the orphanage where at end of it is a river where you can chill at a restaurant and watch the elephants bathe. You do need a ticket to access this road. This was by far the best part of the trip.

4 Thank Lun K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chichester, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
71 reviews
32 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“how cruel!”
Reviewed December 27, 2013

I went here 15 years or so ago and it was then a place where orphaned elephants are helped and fed and looked after. Larger elephants were fed greenery and we were able to watch them being fed, if they wanted to wander off they could. The babies were fed by tourists in a coral of metal barriers, from bottles which the tourists paid a small sum to be able to give them. The babies were not restricted in any way and were treated kindly. The milk was mixed beforehand and was put in the bottles ready, these bottles were then brought out all at the same time and the tourists (yep! - I was one of them) were safely behind the barriers awaiting the rush of babies, who were let in en-mass. Each baby made a beeline for the nearest tourist and they all got fed.

It doesn't happen like that now? The babies are chained up, each one by a back leg, to a large metal ring, which is stuck into the middle of the floor in the middle of the circle of steel barriers. The poor baby elephants are then frantically tugging at the chains whilst the dopey keepers decant the milk into the bottles in front of them, driving them crazy. Then the tourists are wheeled in and positioned in front of a desperately stretching baby elephant. The tourists are then schooled in how to give the milk and ONLY THEN are the babies fed. Surely this needs better organisation? OK you need to make money to run the place and this is a good hands-on way to do it, but surely there is a better way than the way they feed them now?

We saw the larger elephants being herded into a bunch, so that the tourists can see them eating the greenery. They animals were not permitted to wander around and I witnessed three elephants (two quite young and one about 6-7) being beaten back into the group with a pike. The keeper (I use the word loosely to describe the young idiot doing the beating and who was entrusted with the animals welfare) ran after them and chased them back into position swinging the long pole with a steel hooked spike on, which he also jabbed sharply into the flanks of the animals. There were also several smaller baby elephants with long chains around a back leg, which were obviously causing them distress.


I also understand that the 'orphanage' is allowing a captive breeding programme, in order to have enough babies to keep the money flowing - surely this is totally against what the 'orphanage' is there for in the first place?

In my opinion the following is true:
Is it run for the benefit of the elephants - NO
Is it run as a money making venture for profit - YES
Would I go there again - NO
Should it be inspected by under-cover animal welfare bodies - YES YES YES
Should it be forced to change its cruel practices - YES
Would I recommend you go there as it is now - NO NO NO NO NO - DON'T GO

Visited December 2013
6 Thank Raymond K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Western Australia, Australia
Level 4 Contributor
37 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed December 26, 2013

Wow it truly was amazing seeing so many elephants bathing! Then visiting the park as well was great too, feeding them and seeing the really baby elephants. What a good job this orphanage does for the elephants here!

Visited December 2013
Thank Katie N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Graz, Austria
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed December 25, 2013

I'm not an elephant expert, but hitting an elephant with a metal-pointed stick so that it screams and pees itself is not what you should see in an elephant orphanage!... and that was just one of many (bad) impressions we've had going there.

Visited December 2013
3 Thank natalie s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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