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Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
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Private Day Tour Pinnawala Open Zoo & Elephant Orphanage With Kandy From Negombo
Ranked #1 of 3 things to do in Pinnawala
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Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Reviewed 2 November 2011

I volunteer in the orphanage for 2 months and let me tell you it was amazing, I got to see the elephants all day and see them in the activities of the day.,.
I am a veterinarian and let me tell you that these elephants are quite healthy considering the circustances that this is a country were human-elephant conflict exsists. People like to see them up close and for that they need to be trained I did not witnes any abuse and they have chains for training as you can se the adult ones are unchained it is the young ones that have then and the male working ones for they are more agressive.
They are dangerous and smart animals and well they have a good home at pinnawala.
The fees to enter are not that high and well about the fee that was mentioned with a camara and that it is because they are using it for a documerntary or for tv. I used my camara every day and my fee was as a regular tourist.
And about the maiting of the elephants they are animals and by nature they need to mate and they are not back in the wild because there is no were to be taken, Raja and Sama are 2 elephants that should of died long ago but by the help of pinnawala they are alive and taken care of. Raja is blind and old and has nice baths every day, clean water, food every day, and a veterinarian on call, every day. Sama is the elephant missing part of her leg and she is in a family environment and is loved by the herd.
So not expect to see them in a natural habitat because they are not, they try to keep it as natural as posible by allowing interaction in the herd, mating and bathing in the river. This is a good place to visist if you like to see elephants up close but as a tourist do not expect to ride them or to ineract with them because they try for them to have little human contact with outside staff. ther is a schedule in the enterance for you to see the activities and not miss any of the elephant activities.
I truly recomend this place and please do not write crap if you expect something without thinking of the great help that this place does for this animals. I know that it is in human nature to see $$$ every were, but they are still doing a great job.

5  Thank Rosen M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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2,388 - 2,392 of 3,297 reviews

Reviewed 1 November 2011

We have been to see this orphanage before in the 80's & 90's and it has changed alot and not for the better.

Everytime a photo opportunity came along, someone was holding their hand out for a tip and when one was given I was told it wasn't enough!

When the elephants were taken down to the river, we were already waiting in the cafe with a great vantage point. 5 of the larger elephants were chained up just under neath where we were sat and they began to wash and play. For no reason what so ever on of the handlers started throwing stones at one of them whilst it was just lying in the water. Then another took his pole and threw it and it stuck in the elephants ear, it let out such a scream all the other elephants began to call and get up. It took him a while to release his pole and he then sat and smiled for the tourists.

I understand that these animals need to be controlled but this was absolutely disgusting behavour.

I would not recommend this trip again.

13  Thank Debs L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 October 2011

I've visited this place Couple of years back and this is the best place to see the elephants up & close as the heard goes to bath, you can see the elephants really close here. Even the small ones when they pass you by .their is a time in the morning and in the evening where they put them to bath. (it's the closest I've been to a herd)
their are good reputed hotels if you plan to stay over night

Thank TravelerRanitha
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 October 2011

We visited the orphanage in the morning and saw the baby elephants being fed - they were so sweet and you can stroke them after they have been fed, great experience. We saw the elephants in the park working, and feeding etc. Visit the blind elephant, he is kept away from the others as they are too rough for him. The best bit is watching the elephants bathing in the river.
Don't be alarmed that the elephants and even the baby are chained up, as they are still wild animals and can be extremely dangerous. The poles with spikes on the mahouts use are not to hurt the elephants they are to control them. They touch pressure points behind there ears, so they respond to commands.
I'm a big softie when it comes to animals and I felt quite privileged to get so close to wild animals. Enjoy. By the way the elephant poo paper and gifts are quite expensive!

2  Thank cazcav
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 October 2011

The Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage is not an orphanage. It is not a sanctuary. It is a crime scene, where elephants are bred for the amusement of humans. A blind elephant is chained by a front and back foot, forced to stand in place day after day for people to look at. An elephant who lost part of its from leg from a land mine limps around the park. Every elephant is “trained” with a bull hook. In order to have tourists pay for photos the workers fetch each elephant in turn by catching them in a tender spot with the bull-hook and drawing them to the unsuspecting tourists. An elephant is persuaded to lie down in the water, and a bull-hook is laid across his neck to convince him to say in place. He lies there for hours. Two young elephants are chained under a roof, too far apart to offer comfort. They strain at their chains, trying to touch each other. An elephant is chained at river’s edge, the only one not allowed to enter the water, She spends the next two hours swaying, attempting over and over to immerse herself in the cool river along with all of the others. Tourists feed peanuts to the elephants, who are then chased away with bull-hooks by the workers.
I don’t know much at all about elephants, but I know something about fear. These elephants are obviously terrified of the workers, and no doubt they should be. It is brutal existence and incredibly sad to watch.

27  Thank Melanie B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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