Spend a Day Among the Gentle Giants of Sri Lanka at the Only Elephant Orphanage in the World


The Pinnawala Orphanage has now turned into a huge tourist attraction where you can easily mingle with the elephants

The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is a popular tourist destination in Sri Lanka and it is a must-see destination for people who love animals. It is situated northwest of the town of Kegalle, halfway between the present capital Colombo and the ancient royal residence Kandy. It was established in 1975 by the Sri Lanka Wildlife Department in a 25-acre coconut property adjoining the Maha Oya River. The orphanage was originally founded in order to afford care and protection to the many orphaned Elephants found in the jungles of Sri Lanka.

In 1978 the orphanage was taken over by the National Zoological Gardens from the Department of Wildlife. A captive breeding program was launched in 1982. Since the inception of the program over 20 elephants have been bred here. The aim of the orphanage is to simulate a natural habitat to these elephants. However, there are some exceptions: the elephants are taken to the river twice a day for a bath, and all the babies less than three years of age are still bottle fed by the mahouts and volunteers.

Follow the daily routine of the elephants

If you are planning to visit Sri Lanka on your next vacation and if you have the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in the list of places you wish to visit, the first thing that you would want to know would be the time schedules and their program.

The Pinnawala elephant orphanage timetable is laid down as follows for your convenience.

08.30 am – Opens for the visitors

09.00 am – 09.45 am Fruit feeding

09.15 am – 09.45 am Milk feeding

10.00 am – 12.00 pm Herd to the river

12.00 pm – 01.45 pm Fruit feeding

01.15 pm – 01.45 pm Milk feeding

02.00 pm – 04.00 pm Herd goes to the river

05.00 pm – Milk feeding

05.30 pm – Ticket counter closes

06.00 pm – Closes for the day


Bathe and feed them at leisure

Visitors are completely enamored at feeding time when the younger babies are bottle-fed with enormous amounts of infant formula, which they guzzle down in a few seconds. You can watch them feeding at 9.15 am 1.15 am and 5.00 pm.

A major pachyderm pleasure is bathing and the wide river nearby enables the elephants to bathe twice daily, a regimen essential for an elephant’s hygiene, comfort, and happiness. Bath times are from 10 am until 12 noon and from 2 until 4 pm.

The success story of Pinnawala has drawn the attention of animal activists and scientists from all over the world. A considerable number of books and research articles on Pinnawala have been published in several languages. The elephants of the Pinnawala herd have been filmed, videoed, and photographed thousands of times by professionals, and millions of times by amateurs. The message of conservation from Pinnawala has been passed on to thousands, if not millions of people, after their visit to the orphanage.

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