Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is located close to the city of Kegalle in the Sabaragamuwa province and spreads over 25 acres of lush green land, adjoining the Maha Oya river which serves as a natural bathing grounds for the elephants which have refuge there. Currently, the orphanage also performs as a nursery and a captive breeding ground for 88 Asian elephants.


Established in 1975, by the Department of Wildlife Conservation of Sri Lanka, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage was initially set up within the Wilpattu National Park, as a sanctuary to orphan baby elephants found in the wild who cannot fend for themselves.

Later, it was shifted to Bentota, then to the National Zoological Gardens in Dehiwala and finally to the village of Pinnawala. The authority of the facility was acquired by the National Zoological Gardens in 1978, and the elephant breeding program was commenced in 1982. 

From the inception of the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage to the present day, all orphaned elephants have been welcomed and made their home of loving care. Therefore, the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, which started with four baby elephants, has now grown to a herd of 109 elephants.


Although Sri Lanka had a population of over 30,000 elephants in the wilderness before the arrival of the British, after nearly a century of hunting by the invaders, the elephant population had dropped drastically.

Hence, as an attempt to rehabilitate the elephant population, the Sri Lankan government promoted the establishment of the Pinnawala Elephant orphanage.

Elephants roam in herds and more often than not, baby elephants may get lost or separated from the herd due to many reasons.

Unable to keep up with the herd’s pace, falling into pits and ravines are to name a few. This can happen to adult elephants as well, but for baby elephants, on many occasions, the reason for being lost is because the mother had been killed or injured.

The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage provides sanctuary for such victims; both baby and adult. In the orphanage, they are nursed back to health, free from any kind of stress and abused, they get the opportunity to rejoin a herd.

They are able to roam freely within the compound as well as mate and breed freely as in a normal elephant herd in the wild.

Today, the number of elephants. Who have taken refuge in the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is close to a 100, and it is considered to be one of the most successful Asian Elephant captive breeding establishment in Asia.

The Elephant Orphanage Project aims to provide the maximum possible opportunity to those affected by such situations. Although these projects cost a lot of money on a daily basis, more than a hundred employees are dedicated to caring for the elephants and helping the elephants to live without any form of stress or abuse.

 The large open space reserved for the free movement of the herd allows the elephants to mate. To date, local and foreign elephant experts have also assisted in making this task a success


Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is open to visitors any time of the year and the opening time is 8.30 AM. From 9.00 AM to 9.45 AM in the morning and at 12.00 noon to 1.45 PM, fruit feeding and milk feeding to baby elephants is carried out, mainly as a tourist attraction.

During these sessions, visitors are allowed to feed the elephants.  There are several fruits stands just outside the park, from where you can purchase fruits for the elephants.

At 10.00 AM, the elephants are herded to the Maha Oya river to bathe under the care of mahouts. Elephant bathing is considered the main attraction of the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, since it’s the closest thing you will see to their natural behavior in the wild.

All the elephants immensely enjoy their limited time allowed for bathing, playing and splashing about in the river.


Due to the increased number of visits from tourists within the past few years, the locals living in area surrounding the park have become accustomed to a tourist-based economy.

Near the entrance to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, you can observe several shops which sell hand-crafted items made of coconut shells, palm fronds etc. Elephant-themed items are common here, with hand carvings, paintings and wooden statues of tuskers being common in several of the stalls.

In addition, you can also visit the “Hela Bojun” restaurant set up by the Ministry of Agriculture with the intention of empowering local women. There you can enjoy delicious traditional Sri Lankan food cooked on the spot.

“Iparani Gama” or “Ancient Village” is another small theme park close to the orphanage, where you can observe and experience the traditional village life of ancient Sri Lanka. So, if you’re planning a visit to Kandy from Colombo, make sure to visit Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage on your way, since it would be a memorable experience you wouldn’t want to miss.


Foreign visitor ticket prices

AdultLKR 3000.00
ChildrenLKR 1500.00 (3-12 Years)

SAARC visitor ticket prices

AdultLKR 800.00
ChildrenLKR 400.00 (3-12 Years)


Foreign adultLKR 3500.00
Foreign childLKR 1750.00(3-12 Years)
SAARC adultLKR 1000.00
SAARC childLKR 500.00(3-12 Years)


08.30 hours – Open to visitors

09.15 hours – Bottle feeding

10.00 hours – Herd leaving to the river

12.00 hours – Return from the river

13.15 hours – Bottle feeding

14.00 hours – Herd leaving to the river

16.00 hours – Return from the river

17.00 hours – Bottle feeding

17.30 hours – Ticket counters close

18.00 hours – Close to public


Best time to visit – Any time of the year
Distance from Colombo – 94 km
How to get there – Around 2 hours and 15 minutes in a private vehicle from Colombo

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