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Sri Lanka: Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

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The Pinnawala orphanage is located between the capital city of Colombo and Kandy.  It was established in 1975 and presently home to 70 elephants. Usually the baby elephants are brought here either because mother died or injured and not able to take care of the baby. Now in addition the orphanage has become a breeding facility as well.

It is a treat to watch these elephants being fed and taken twice daily for their baths in the river near by. The center being worlds largest of its kind, attracts fair amount of  not only local but also international tourists. In addition to tourism, for certain fee one can spend a month or two taking care of these elephants in their feeding, bathing and mental stimulation. The center is also well known for its share of research work.

I spent approximately 2 hours at the orphanage and saw  baby elephant and adolescents being fed milk. Then I went to a restaurant to have my lunch as I  watched all the 70 elephants having bath in the river. Fascinating to watch was how these elephants adults and babies alike went across the river in herds to toss mud on themselves and come back and have a bath again in the river.

It was heartwarming to see the baby elephant playing with a piece of cloth at the same time heartbreaking to see the big tusker who is blind. There is also another elephant whose right front leg was blown off by a landmine and the trouble he is having to balance his weight while walking. I just didn’t have the heart to photograph him. Here are some photographs of what I saw…….

Author: Dr K.B. Mallya- Canada

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