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Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is situated 13 km North East of Kegalle town in Sabaragamuwa Province, Sri Lanka. This is an orphanage, nursery and captive breeding ground for wild Asian Elephants located at Pinnawala village, established in 1975 by the Sri Lanka Department of Wildlife Conservation (SLDWC). Pinnawala is notable for having the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. In 2011, there were 88 elephants, including 37 males and 51 females from 3 generations. There are 48 mahouts (handlers) who take care of the elephants.

The orphanage commenced with seven orphans and the addition of orphans continued till 1995. However, since the Elephant Transit Home (ETH), Udawalawe was created by the SLDWC, orphaned baby elephants have been taken to the ETH. Therefore, addition to the Pinnawala herd has been mostly through births occurring there. Today some of these orphans enjoy the fortune of seeing their grandchildren born in the same location.

The elephants are fed in their stalls. Large quantities of jackfruit, coconut, kitul (sugar palm), tamarind and grass are brought in daily as elephants' food. Each adult animal is given around 250 kilograms (550 lb) of this green matter per day and around 2 kg (4.4 lb) of rice bran and maize.

Tourists can observe the bathing elephants from the broad river bank as the herd interacts socially, bathing and playing. The orphanage is open to the public daily and all admission fees are used to look after the elephants. Visitors to the park can view the daily routine of the elephants, including bottle feeding of elephant calves, feeding of all other elephants, and bathing in the Ma Oya (River).


08.30   - Ticket counter opening

09.15   - Bottle feeding

10.00   - Herd goes to the river

12.00   - Return from the river

13.15   - Bottle feeding

14.00   - Herd goes to the river

16.00   - Return from the river

17.00   - Bottle feeding

17.30   - Ticket counter closes

18.00   - Closure of the Orphanage


Bottle feeding baby elephants

Elephant bathing in river

Open Zoo