Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage,
Sri Lanka

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is an orphanage and breeding sanctuary for rescued, injured or abused wild elephants which is situated northwest of the town of Kegalle, Sri Lanka. It was established in 1975 by the Department of Wildlife Conservation on a 25-acre (10 ha) coconut plantation on Maha Oya river.

The orphanage was originally founded in order to afford care and protection to the many orphaned elephants found in the jungle. In 1982 an elephant breeding program was launched. The orphanage is very popular among local and foreign tourists. 

The main attraction is the opportunity to observe the bathing elephants from the broad river bank as the herd interact socially, bathing and playing. The orphanage is open to the public daily, and all admission fees are used to look after the elephants. Orphanage provides all food, medicines for the elephants and milk for weak baby elephants.

There is very little food they can gather from the premises of the orphanage except some grass. Large quantities of Jackfruit leaves, Coconut leaves, Palm leaves, tamarind and grass brought in daily. Each adult elephant is given around 150 kilograms. Visitors to the park can view many different aspects of the care and daily routine of the elephants, such as bottle feeding of elephant calves, feeding of all other elephants, and bathing.

Our History

With the cultural background of treating human and animal alike in their distress, Pinnawala elephant orphanage started off with the introduction of five abandoned baby elephants to the premises. They cannot survive in the wild on their own as they suckle from their mother until they are almost five years old. They hence need to be hand raised for their survival.

This institution caters not only for the abandoned babies but also for those injured and maimed within the jungle. We employ the expertise of both modern veterinary and traditional indigenous medical treatment to cater to these elephant’s needs.

Become a Volunteer

The purpose of Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

The primary purpose of the orphanage has been to provide a lifeline to the orphaned baby elephants and adult elephants lost in the wilderness. In many occasions the mother of the orphaned baby elephant had been killed or there have been accidents of baby elephants falling in to pits and losing out to the herd. There are instances of adult elephants being killed by farmers to protect their paddy fields and crops resulting in baby elephants being orphaned.

The elephants at the orphanage aren’t subject to any form of stress, abuse or threat at all and are supported by a team of employees numbering to over 100 including a group of mahouts.

Moreover, today with the help of local and foreign elephant experts, the orphanage has commenced a scientific captive breeding program for elephants. Since then the orphanage has become one of the most successful captive breeding program for Asian elephants.