Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Do you love elephants? Oh yes. Get close and personal with orphaned lovable mammals at Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage. A home established for nurturing and care, safeguarding them from danger. Encounter opportunities of feeding the babies and watching the herds bathing in the river, an experience of wonderment.


  • A home for orphaned and injured elephants found and rescued in the wild
  • The institution was set up by the Sri Lanka Wildlife Department in 1975
  • Connect with them through feeding with large bottles of milk made possible with scheduled times
  • It is a fascinating experience watching these elephants bathing and playing in the river
  • Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage has captured the attention and interest of many animal activists and scientists from around the globe
  • Tourists love this attraction, making it a very popular place since you can get in close contact with majestic mammals


Revel in the joy of watching baby elephants wandering around their new home, being bottle fed and bathed at Pinnawela. An elephant orphanage situated close to Kegalle and approximately 90 kilometres from Colombo towards Kandy. Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage is a home for orphaned and injured elephants that were found in the wild. An interesting place ,where large groups of orphaned elephants can be seen in their natural habitat, making Pinnawela extra special. It is a popular site for tourists and locals.

Going back to 1972, the orphanage was originally initiated at the Wilpattu National Park and was relocated to the National Holiday Resort at Bentota Beach which is in the south west of the island. Following this, it was then shifted to the National Zoological Gardens in Dehiwela and after which it was eventually then set up by the Sri Lanka Wildlife Department in 1975 at Pinnawela, Kegalle. Solely built to fulfil the purpose of providing shelter to baby and adult elephants lost in the jungle, covering an area of 25 acres over a coconut estate adjacent to the Maha Oya River.
Since then, continuous efforts were made for every orphaned elephant to be taken into protection and safety at the orphanage. Starting with 4 orphaned elephants, the orphanage now has expanded and is home to about 109.

Reasons for baby elephants being orphaned or lost are due to their mothers being killed by poachers or falling into pits. Baby elephants being trapped in these pits or empty wells as a result of being in search of water. While many adult elephants are killed by farmers protecting their crops and paddy fields.

The orphanage provides opportunities to visitors to connect with the elephants through scheduled bathing and feeding times. It is fascinating watching these little elephants guzzle down large bottles of milk and then led to the river for bathing; where you can witness their natural kindness and playful behaviour.
Another elephant sanctuary is situated approximately 2.5 kilometres from Pinnawela which is known as ‘Club Concept’. It houses a smaller herd of elephants where the mother and her two female elephants, Lakshmi and Puja are the star attractions. A small museum on the site narrates their story and also exhibits details on the lifestyle and habits of the elephants in Sri Lanka.

Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage became popular and successful since it has captured the attention and interest of many animal activists and scientists from around the globe. Many books and articles were published in several languages along with videos and photographs that were created to help create awareness in spreading the message of conservation to millions of people.

The orphanage is open from 8:30am to 5:45pm daily. You can travel to Pinnawela via car and also by train, with the closest railway station closest being at Rambukkana which is 2 km away from Pinnawela.