Spread over an area of 10 ha in Pinnawala village, this government-run elephant orphanage is one of Sri Lanka’s most popular tourist attractions. Originally set up in 1975 to take care of five orphaned elephants, today it is home to the world’s largest group of captive elephants.
Pinnawala is now home to over 80 elephants of all ages; these include orphaned and abandoned elephants as well as those found injured in the wild. In addition, there are some baby elephants that were born here in captivity. The younger elephants are herded into the feeding sheds three times a day – 9:15 am, 1:15 pm and 5 pm- to be bottle-fed with huge quantities of milk. At 10 am again at 2 pm, the elephants are taken across the road and down to the Ma Oya river, where they can be seen splashing around and playing for about an hour.