Admit it. It is tough to visualize an elephant orphanage.  Visions of elephants in shorts like Oliver Twist asking “please sir may I have another” were short lived in my great expectations, however they were not replaced with anything very clear.

Originally set up by the government to care for abandoned or orphaned elephants it has now turned into a major tourist attraction and seems to be the economic cornerstone of a small village outside of Kandy named Pinnewala.

It has its critics. The critics are concerned that it has turned into a breeding ground as much as an orphanage, something Oliver Twist never had to concern himself with I am sure. For me, the more pachyderms the merrier. The mahouts(elephant handlers) take really good care of them and they are fed all they can eat without having to ask for another. Other than that they seem to roam free on a large sanctuary.

Twice a day the “orphans” and their parents (whatever) are lead through town to the local river to bath, something elephants love to do.

One elephant they care for is this old guy who survived being shot by a poacher. He still has a bullet in his hide, he still has his tusks, but he is blind. he was very mellow and seemed to enjoy being petted while I aplogized for the cruelty of mankind.

Twice a day the elephants march down main street to the river to bathe. They know they own the place, and they just mosey along.

There are a lot of very young elephants in the herd. They tend to stay together like kids everywhere.

An ancillary industry has grown in Pinnewalla.

Turning elephant poop into paper is actaully an easy process because of the high fiber content of the poop. The elephants eat a lot of bamboo. We were impressed enough to purchase next years Christmas cards. So if you want a Christmas card made of elephant poop, leave me a comment!

And of course you can have lunch while watching the elephants play in the river! By the way, the Lion brand beer is pretty damn good and does not taste like elephant piss.

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