Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage is an orphanage and breeding ground for 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 coconut plantation on the 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 1978, the orphanage was taken over by the Department of National Zoological Gardens, and in 1982 an elephant breeding program was launched.  As of 2008, there were 84 elephants.

The aim of the orphanage is to simulate the natural world. However, there are some exceptions: the elephants are taken to the river twice daily for a bath, and all the babies under three years of age are still bottle fed by the mahouts and volunteers. Each animal is also given around 170 pounds of green manure a day and around four pounds from a food bag containing rice bran and maize. They get access to water twice a day, from the river.

This elephant orphanage is also a breeding place for elephants. More than 23 elephants have been born since 1984, and the orphanage has the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. While most of the elephants are healthy, one is blind, and one, named Sama, has lost her front right leg to a land mine.

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 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 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.

Information based on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinnawela_Elephant_Orphanage