A home for destitute elephants

The biggest risk with these misplaced or abandoned baby elephants is that they cannot survive in the wild on their own as they suckle from their mother until they are almost five years old. They hence need to be hand-raised for their survival.

Kabeer Yousuf –
Being orphaned is a crucial junction in life which many might have faced; and animals becoming parentless can equally give excruciating pain for these creatures. Men do express but how can these living creatures share the pangs of sorrow with their loved ones?
An orphanage in Sri Lanka is wholly dedicated to elephants which are either parentless, misplaced or abandoned and is taking care of these mammoth creatures. The biggest risk with these misplaced or abandoned baby elephants is that they cannot survive in the wild on their own as they suckle from their mother until they are almost five years old. They hence need to be hand-raised for their survival.
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage (PEO), just as the name suggests holds a unique disposition in the ex-situ animal care. Now, with more four decades of existence, the orphanage’s success and fame has travelled not just within the country but throughout the world to an extent where Pinnawala is synonymous with the Sri Lankan elephants.
Today, this orphanage is home to 93 elephants and people from across the continents are regular visitors to this vast area while some make vows to fulfil their dreams in life of visiting this land.
“The concept of such a home for destitute elephants was thought by an erstwhile minister and a good samaritan Kalugalle in 1975. Pinnawala at the time was a very remote area with lush coconut plantations. It is an area where the availability of mahouts was not lacking. The immense amount of water required by the elephants is supplemented with the availability of Ma’oya river running close by”, Gopala, an assistant at the elephant orphanage said.
The following year, the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage started off with the introduction of five abandoned baby elephants to the premises. These babies were named Vijaya, Neela, Kadira, Mathlee and Kumari. Today, this institution caters not only for the abandoned babies but also for those injured and maimed within the jungle.
These baby elephants have a well-designed routine with bathing at a nearby stream daily from 10am to 12pm and from 2pm to 4pm; while milk is fed every day from 9.15am to 9.45am and in the afternoon from 1.15 to 1.45. Additionally, the visitors are given an opportunity to feed these orphans with fruits every day from 9am to 9.45am and afternoon from 12 to 1.45pm.
“Having a regime of time for various activities daily keeps them fit and healthy and away from any illnesses. We employ the expertise of both modern veterinary and traditional indigenous medical treatment to cater to these elephants needs”, adds Gopala.

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