The Adorable Orphans of Pinnawala


They seem larger than life… yet they are adorable…

The Elephant orphanage of Pinnawala was established in the year 1975 by the Sri Lanka Department of Wildlife and Conservation, as a place of shelter and care for the wounded elephants and abandoned baby elephants found in jungles.

The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is located at Pinnawala, Kegalle district, in Sabaragamuwa province. The main access is from Colombo- Kandy main road and after the turn towards Rambukkana, you can easily find the place from name board by the main road.

In the beginning, there were only five orphaned baby elephants but now there are over 98 elephants which include elephants of three generations. It is said to be the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. There are about 50 handlers who look after the elephants.

Since there is very little vegetation for the elephants to feed in their natural habitat, they feed on large quantities of jak fruit, coconut, kithul or palm sugar, or grass. Adult elephants eat about 250kg of vegetables and 2kg of rice or maize. Elephants are such healthy creatures as they eat all their vegetables. There are also a few disabled elephants at the sanctuary. Tourists are welcome to come and watch these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.

Every day from 10am-noon and from 2-4pm they are herded down to the river by their handlers for their twice-a-day bath in the cool water. This is a sight many people from all over Sri Lanka and visitors to Sri Lanka come to watch.

Don’t miss a visit to the maternity and baby stable. The orphanage has a pretty good success rate for breeding in captivity with several babies born each year. These cute babies usually stick close to mom… sometimes hiding under mom’s stomach if another elephant gets too close or they get scared of something.

A visitor to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage gets the chance to witness the daily life of its residents. They will meet the rescued or abandoned elephants of all ages, see them play and bathe in the river, and watch the youngest of the herd being bottle-fed. This will really be a rare experience for the visitors to Sri Lanka.

There are many excursions which include visits to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, especially through nearby hotels in Kandy.