Sadly, despite its original, and very laudable, aims, increasing concerns have been raised over the past few years about the treatment of Pinnewala’s resident elephants, including repeated allegations of systematic animal cruelty – many visitors feel that Pinnewala is now not so much an orphanage as a zoo (or circus) in which the money-grubbing antics of the resident mahouts completely overshadow the welfare of the increasingly malnourished and mistreated elephants they are supposed to be caring for. Various malpractices have been described, including the inappropriate chaining of elephants and excessive use of the elephant goad (ankus), the hooked metal tool used to train and control elephants – in 2011 one of the orphanage’s largest male elephants died after apparently being repeatedly stabbed with an ankus. Serious concerns have also been raised about the practice of donating elephants from the orphanage to various temples and other organizations or individuals, with a large proportion of donated elephants, it is alleged, being abused, and sometimes dying, after their transfer into private ownership.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Sri Lanka features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

10 Sri Lankan foods you need to try

10 Sri Lankan foods you need to try

The tear-shaped Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka is a true culinary treat. Through years of colonisation and trade, many cultures have influenced its cuisine, c…

15 Nov 2017 • Sarah Gilbert insert_drive_file Article
16 evocative pictures of Sri Lanka

16 evocative pictures of Sri Lanka

After a couple of weeks travelling across Sri Lanka, photographer Nori Jemil shares why this Indian Ocean island is a perfect subject. Here are 16 of her favour…

11 Oct 2017 • Nori Jemil insert_drive_file Article
Sri Lanka: 10 tips for first-time visitors

Sri Lanka: 10 tips for first-time visitors

Sri Lanka’s heady mix of British colonial heritage, beautiful landscapes and incredibly friendly locals make it a beguiling destination. But the tropical isle…

29 Aug 2017 • Chloe Cann insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook