Experience the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and the Open Zoo
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is situated northwest of the town of Kegalle, halfway between the present capital Colombo and the ancient royal residence Kandy. It was established in 1975 by the Sri Lanka Wildlife Department in a 25 acre coconut property adjoining the Maha Oya River. The orphanage was originally founded in order to afford care and protection to the many orphaned Elephants found in the jungles of Sri Lanka.
In 1978 the orphanage was taken over by the National Zoological Gardens from the Department of Wildlife. A captive breeding program was launched in 1982. Since the inception of the program over 20 elephants have been bred here. The aim of the orphanage is to simulate a natural habitat to these elephants. However, there are some exceptions: the elephants are taken to the river twice a day for a bath, and all the babies less than three years of age are still bottle fed by the mahouts and volunteers.
Each animal is also given around 76 kg of green matter a day and around 2 kg from a food bag containing rice bran and maize. The orphanage which boasts to have the largest herd of captive elephants in the world is very popular and visited daily by many Sri Lankan and foreign tourists. The main attraction is clearly to observe the elephants bathing which is quite a spectacle.
Pinnawala Open Zoo
The Pinnawala Open Air Zoo is Sri Lanka’s first open air zoo which has been declared open to the public as of April 2015. Located within proximity to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, the zoo spreads over an expanse of 44 acres which has been landscaped without harming its natural beauty. Since Sri Lanka is home to a rich diversity of animals, the zoo consists of two zones “Sri Lankan” and “World”. However, currently the zoo is home to a number of native animals such as deer, leopard, crocodiles, species of monkeys, birds, turtles and many more.
The “Sri Lankan” section of the zoo will also include a special open section displaying the free-roaming Sri Lankan Leopard which is guaranteed to be a beautiful sight. The Sri Lankan Leopard is a leopard subspecies that is native to the island alone and is classified as one of the endangered species to roam the earth. Leopards are mainly spotted in dry evergreen monsoon forests areas, arid scrub jungles, rainforests and low and upper highland forests. So, it will be interesting to witness these predators at Pinnawala for a change. The “World” section is said to be constructed to hold a number of non-native animal species which is currently being look at.
The Pinnawala Open Air Zoo was proposed to be constructed in line with International Standards and so far the authorities have taken steps to maintain their promise. A number of facilities such as dining venues and areas to relax will be offered to local and tourists alike who visit the zoo. Since it’s located adjacent to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, chances are that you can plan your holiday around it and make a quick visit to both places without much hassle.