Elephants are cool. Not just because they are these giant, lumbering beasts (kinda like me) but because they are just cool animals. Normally, they’re so decent and tame, but everyone knows that the last thing you ever want to see, is a rampaging elephant. Probably, the most popular tourist attraction in Kandy (2 hrs from Colombo), aside from Murali (he would be the most popular export) would be the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage.
This orphanage was built in 1975 with the purpose of preserving and protecting decreasing number of elephants in the region. It is definitely interactive and you can touch the elephants, see them being fed and you can actually feed them. You can also go see the elephants taking a bath, which happens twice daily.
As you can see from the video, while this is sold/advertised as an orphanage, the original purpose has obviously been lost and has become a money pot for Sri Lanka. Look at the prices for the foreign adult … 2000 rupees (~18$ CDN)
I have no problem with the ticket being expensive for foreigners because one would assume that this was all going to a good cause.
Good travel tip for non Indian brown people
This was the first time I learned about the SAARC discount – it was 1/4 the price @ 500 rupees. Of course, I had to use the brown people discount – because that is exactly what it is! So I paid 500 rupees, while D* had to pay 2000 rupees.
Finally once you get in, after a short line up, you see that the elephants are poked and prodded with sharp sticks. It seemed like some of the elephants were a bit scared of the the human caretakers. Watching the elephants lumber around is actually really nice, however I’m not kidding myself, this is not an orphanage it is a zoo.
My opinion aside, I thought that seeing the elephants was really fun, especially when you see the little baby elephants walking around with their mothers.
I think the saddest thing I saw though was the elephant that stepped on a land mine and had part of it’s foot blown off. I couldn’t bring myself to take a close up of the elephant, but I’m sure that you can find the elephant in the picture below, if you visit the Elephants in Kandy.
The picture below captures my thoughts about the “Orphanage” … a lovely pregnant elephant with the caretaker – note the long sharp stick.
Note : Every single one of the elephant handlers is out to make some extra cash – usually with the excuse of offering to take a picture of you petting a mighty elephant. Take your own pictures or ask someone to take a picture of you. It’s always the principle – who really cares about giving away some rupees!