The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is a unique and popular attraction in Sri Lanka. Located in the village of Pinnawala in Sabaragamauwa Province, about 90 kilometers northeast of Colombo, the orphanage is home to a large number of rescued elephants (around 80) that have been given a second chance at life. The elephants are taken care of by a team of dedicated caretakers and are a major tourist attraction in Sri Lanka.
The distance from Bandaranaike International Airport (also known as Katunayaka Airport) to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is approximately 95 kilometers (59 miles), and it takes about 2.5–3 hours to travel by road, depending on traffic conditions. The distance from Kandy to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is approximately 36 kilometers (22 miles), and it takes about 1–1.5 hours to travel.
History and Background
The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage was established in 1975 by the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation. The main objective of the orphanage was to care for orphaned and injured elephants that were found in the wild. Over the years, the orphanage has become a sanctuary for elephants that have been abandoned, injured, or are too old to be released back into the wild.
The orphanage is home to over 80 elephants, making it the largest captive herd of elephants in the world. The herd includes both young and old elephants, and visitors can witness the daily routines of these magnificent creatures.
A unique experience
Visiting the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is a unique and unforgettable experience. Visitors can participate in the daily feeding, bathing, and playing routines of the elephants. The elephants are fed milk and fruit three times a day, and visitors can watch as the baby elephants guzzle down their bottles of milk. The morning feeding time is 8.30 am to 10am.
The highlight of the visit is the daily elephant bath, where the elephants are taken down to the nearby river called ‘Ma Oya’ for a refreshing dip. Visitors can watch as the elephants splash around in the water, playfully squirting water at each other. There are two bathing times: the morning and the evening. The morning bathing time starts around 10 a.m., and the evening bathing time starts around 2 p.m. The orphanage closes around 6 p.m., and visitors will not be allowed to enter after 5 p.m.
The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage plays a crucial role in elephant conservation in Sri Lanka. The orphanage provides a safe haven for elephants that have been abandoned or injured in the wild, and cannot be released back into the wild. The orphanage also engages in breeding programs, with the aim of increasing the elephant population in Sri Lanka.
In addition, the orphanage conducts research on elephant behavior and biology, with the aim of improving the welfare of elephants in captivity. The orphanage also works closely with local communities, educating them on the importance of elephant conservation and promoting responsible tourism.
Ticket Prices (in 2021)
For Foreign Visitors:
- Adults: LKR 3,500
- Children (3-12 years): LKR 1,750
For SAARC Visitors:
- Adults: LKR 2,000
- Children (3-12 years): LKR 1,000
For Local Visitors:
- Adults: LKR 500
- Children (3-12 years): LKR 250
The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is a must-visit attraction in Sri Lanka. It offers a unique and memorable experience, allowing visitors to witness the daily routines of rescued elephants. While the orphanage plays a crucial role in elephant conservation, it is important to ensure that the welfare of the elephants is not compromised. Visiting the orphanage can be a responsible and ethical way to support elephant conservation efforts in Sri Lanka.