As I mentioned in my previous blog, Amie and I managed to squeeze in a visit to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage right before she left on Monday afternoon.
Pinnawala is one of the biggest tourist landmarks in Sri Lanka. There are about 70 elephants living there in semi-wild conditions, but they are closely monitored by mahouts. People come to Pinnawala to see the baby elephants and watch the herd bathe in the river. Unfortunately it's a government run program, and is not managed with elephant care in mind but finacial gain. There is no breeding program at Pinnawala (although it claims to have one), so the elephants there are at risk of becoming inbred. I'm glad I visitied Pinnawala, and the elephants are super cute of course! But it's a shame that they don't have a more long-term plan in mind in order to keep the herd healthy. The elephants at Pinnawala don't get reintroduced into the wild so there are a lot of male elephants all living as part of the same herd - this doesn't happen in the wild, and it stunts the development of the young males as they can't separate themselves from the alpha bulls and
form new herds as they would in the wild.
However, there are many captive elephants in Asia who have a much harder life than the ellies at Pinnawala, some working in the tourism and logging industries whose suffering is far greater. So although Pinnawala isn't perfect, it's still a step in the right direction.
PS - More photos below!
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