Elephant Orphanage is the
home for about 60 elephants, out of which many are baby
elephants found, abandoned or orphaned in the wild. They
are being cared, fed and trained by the wild life authorities.
The best time to visit is during the feeding times, when
one will have the opportunity of seeing the baby elephants
being bottle-fed. Also could accompany the elephants to
a river close-by and see the elephants having their daily
It was started in 1975 by the Department of Wildlife on
a twenty five acre coconut property on the Maha Oya river
at Rambukkana. The orphanage was primarily designed to
afford care and protection to the many baby elephants found in the
jungle without their mothers. In most of these cases the mother
had either died or been killed. In some instances the baby had
fallen into a pit and in others the mother had fallen in and died.
Initially this orphanage
was at the Wilpattu National Park, then shifted to the tourist
complex at Bentota and then to the Dehiwala Zoo. From the Zoo
it was shifted to Pinnawela. At the time it was shifted the orphanage
had five baby elephants which formed its nucleus. It was hoped
that this facility would attract both local and foreign visitors,
the income from which would help to maintain the orphanage.
In 1978 the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage was taken over by the
National Zoological Gardens from the Department of Wildlife and
a captive breeding program launched in 1982. At Pinnawela an attempt
was made to simulate, in a limited way, the conditions in the
wild. Animals are allowed to roam freely during the day and a
herd structure allowed to form.
The Department of National
Zoological Gardens has set up an orphanage for baby elephants
at Pinnawela which is about 13 Km. from Kegalle Town. on
the Kegalle- Rambukkana Road.
Kegalle is 77 Km. from Colombo on the Colombo- Kandy road
and the turn off to the orphanage is at the Karandupona
The orphanage was established to feed,
nurse and house young elephants found abandoned by their
mothers. Often the young ones fall into pits and ravines
in their quest for water during drought period. Other
inmates at the orphanage are those displaced from their
natural environs by development projects or those found
diseased or wounded.
The orphanage is 16 years old. The animals that were brought
during the initial years are now capable of breeding and
have in fact bred.
Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage 90Kms
(On Rambukkana Road) Tel: 035-65804
The first birth at Pinnawela was
in 1984, a female, to Vijaya and Kumar who were aged
21 and 20 years respectively at the time of the birth.
Initially the breeding animals consisted of males
Vijaya and Neela and females Kumari, Anusha, Mathalie
and Komali. The father of the first three calves born
at Pinnawela was Vijaya. It was not possible to determine
the father of the new calves since many males used
to mate with the females anoestrus. Now through DNA
fingerprinting the fathers of three have definitely
been identified. Vijaya and Kumari have produced three
calves at intervals of five and four years. In 1993 Vijaya and Kumari were 30 and 29years respectively.
Upto the middle of 1998 there have been fourteen births,
eight males and six females at Pinnawela.