pinnawela elephant orphanage, sri lanka

elesAt long last, the Pinnawela Elephant photos. This is the 5th of the Sri Lanka shows. Only more more, of a trip north of Kandy, which will be fairly short. I love these photos. The elephants are amazing.

Cerno has a piece on the ethics of elephant watching which I read long before I got to editing these. While I feel somewhat the same way about zoos (they depress me. It’s not an ethical issue. I don’t judge people who frequent them), I was intent on going to the orphanage outside Kandy.

DSC_0029The orphanage was founded in 1975 because elephants were close to extinction in Sri Lanka (before the Brits arrived, the number was 30,000). Now there are about 3000. The elephants at the orphanage have lost their mothers or herds. Sama, at right, lost her leg to a land mine, and the last elephant in the slideshow is blind. Sama seemed very sweet, almost interested in our attention, while the others seemed happily oblivious.

The elephants are taken from the orphanage to the river twice a day to bathe. Busloads of tourists—the first and last we saw in Sri Lanka—flock to the river to watch.

Tourists or not (we were lucky and arrived a bit before the busloads), the elephants were amazing. My grandmother collected elephant figures and had thousands of them, which partly inspired my desire to see them, and I’m delighted we did. They were beautiful.

Care for the elephants (there are over 80) is funded by the government and profits from the tourism.

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