Explore Travel

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is a well-known tourist attraction in Sri Lanka located in the village of Pinnawala, about 90 km from the capital city of Colombo. It is a sanctuary for orphaned and injured elephants rescued from various parts of the country. Established in 1975, the orphanage has become one of the most popular places in Sri Lanka, attracting thousands of visitors yearly.

Pinnawala elephant freedom is home to over 80 elephants, including several babies born at the sanctuary. Visitors can see the elephants up close as they roam freely around the harbor or bathe in the nearby river. The shelter also has a museum where visitors can learn about the history of the orphanage and the challenges faced by Sri Lanka’s wild elephant population.

One of the main reasons the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage has established was to provide a haven for orphaned elephants and protect the dwindling wild elephant population in Sri Lanka. The country’s wild elephant population has steadily declined over the past few decades due to habitat loss, poaching, and human-elephant conflict. The orphanage plays a crucial role in conserving these majestic animals. In addition, it is actively involved in research, education, and community outreach programs to raise awareness about the importance of elephant conservation.
The orphanage is also involved in breeding programs to help increase the elephant population in Sri Lanka. As a result, several elephants have been bred at the orphanage and released back into the wild to join the country’s wild elephant population. It is a significant achievement, as breeding elephants in captivity is challenging and complex, requiring specialized knowledge and resources.

Visitors to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage can witness the daily feeding of the elephants, which takes place several times a day. The elephants are fed a diet of milk, fruits, and vegetables, and visitors can watch as the baby elephants are bottle-fed by their handlers. The feeding times are one of the most popular attractions at the orphanage, as visitors can get up close and personal with the elephants and even feed them themselves.
Another popular attraction at the orphanage is the elephant bathing ritual, which takes place in the nearby river. The elephants are taken to the river twice a day, where they can bathe, play, and interact with each other. Visitors can watch the elephants splash around in the water and even join in and help with bathing. It is a unique and unforgettable experience that visitors to the orphanage will cherish for years.

Despite its popularity as a tourist attraction, the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage has recently faced criticism from some animal welfare organizations. Some critics have raised concerns about the welfare of the elephants, citing issues such as the use of chains and the limited space available to the animals. However, the orphanage has taken steps to address these concerns and has implemented measures to improve the living conditions of the elephants.
For example, the orphanage has introduced a new feeding system that allows the elephants to graze and forage for food, a more natural and healthy animal diet. They have also increased the amount of space available to the elephants, and the chains used to restrain the animals are now shorter and less restrictive. In addition, the orphanage is committed to providing the best possible care for the elephants and has worked closely with animal welfare experts to improve the living conditions of the animals.

The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is a unique and fascinating attraction that allows visitors to learn about and interact with one of the world’s most iconic animals. The orphanage plays a vital role in conserving Sri Lanka’s elephants.


Useful Information

  • Plan visits during feeding and bathing times.
  • Respect the elephants and keep a safe distance.
  • Bring a camera to capture the moments.
  • Bring sunscreen and insect repellent.
  • Be mindful of the environment, and don’t litter.
  • Support conservation efforts through donations or purchasing souvenirs.
  • Be patient, as it can get crowded.




More Things to do in


Sri Dalada Maligawa

Sri Dalada Maligawa (or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic) is a Buddhist temple that is home to the tooth relic of Lord Buddha.

Nelligala Temple

This sacred place where the golden Buddha statue, the Saman Devi Stupa, and the holy relic of the Buddha reside, sitting on a white elephant, relaxes the mind.


Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is a wonderful experience for nature and animal lovers. Witness the elephants, support conservation, and learn with guided tours.


Sinharaja Rain Forest

Sinharaja is a stunning rainforest in Sri Lanka with rich biodiversity, guided tours, towering trees, waterfalls, diverse wildlife, and a need to respect its delicate ecosystem.


Hotels Around Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage