Those who remember me in my youth will vouch for the elephant obsession I had as a child – my bedroom filled with elephant ornaments, soft toys, necklaces, pictures and the list goes on. I have always found them to be such magnificent, wise and caring animals and to see them in the wild both in Africa and again on this trip to Sri Lanka was a dream come true. We saw them both at Yala and here at the orphanage but that said, I must admit that I was a little bit underwhelmed.
The orphanage, which was founded in the 70s is home to more than 100 elephants and kudos to the staff for the work they do for these endangered creatures but it just wasn’t quite how I expected. This may have been because of the time we arrived, late in the day when bathing and feeding is generally over but essentially we paid a dear entry ticket (only made more palatable with the knowledge that the money goes towards the copious amounts of bamboo the elephants snack on) to see them walking around in chains. I fully appreciate why this needs to happen for their own safety but it didn’t sit easy watching them restricted that way. I think our experience was probably marred by going late in the day as many have spoken to me about how much they enjoyed this visit so ensure you arrive in good time for feeding and bathing. On a side note, the unexpected finding of 2 snakes mating in the grass was strangely intriguing – they twist around each other as if performing a ritualistic dance (see if you can spot them in the photo below – they are well camouflaged!) ….we shall now add this to our list of mating animals we have spotted coming in third after hippos in Tanzanian waters and monkeys in the middle of the Sri Lankan roads.