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-acres coconut plantation on the Maha Oya River.
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 76 kilograms of green manure a day and around 2 kg from a food bag containing rice bran and maize.
This elephant orphanage is also a breeding place for elephants. More than twenty-three elephants have been born since 1984, and the orphanage has the largest herd of captive elephants in the world.
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 interact 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.