Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage is a sanctuary, operated by the Sri Lankan government which cares for orphaned and injured elephants in their natural surroundings. Established in 1975 by the Department of Wildlife Conservation on a 25-acre (10 ha) coconut plantation on the Maha Oya river, the orphanage was originally founded in order to afford care and protection to the many orphaned elephants found in the jungle.
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 about 76 kilograms (170 lb) of green roughage a day and around 2 kg (4.4 lb) from a food bag containing rice bran and maize. They also have access to water twice a day at the river. This elephant orphanage is also a breeding place. More than twenty-three elephants have been born since 1984, and the orphanage claims the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. While most of the elephants are healthy, one is blind, and one, named Sama, has lost her front right leg to a land mine. A very popular among local and foreign tourist attraction who come to observe the bathing elephants from the broad river bank as the herd interacts socially, bathing and playing.
Check out the great UTube link to the Pinnawela site at the right.