Our Elephant Orphanage Experience programme is based in a famous government-run Orphanage which is home to retired, abused or orphaned Elephants.

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Sri Lanka is a paradise island of 1,600 kilometres of unspoilt, golden beaches and diverse climate zones. Exotic, friendly and welcoming.

In our main conservation programme in this beautiful environment, you will work with rescued elephants in the Elephant Orphanage.
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Orphaned baby elephant in Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Sri Lanka
You can now combine a teaching placement with a conservation placement in the Elephant Orphanages.
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Washing the babies!


Carina Rogers and her favourite elephant

Our Elephant Orphanage Experience programme is based in Sri Lanka’s most famous government-run Orphanage which is home to retired, abused or orphaned Elephants. Altogether around 70 Elephants are based there.
This is reputedly recorded as one of the largest, if not the largest, centres of its kind in the world, with one of the most successful captive breeding programmes for Asian elephants.

Working hours are quite short and you certainly won’t be overloaded with work, so you’ll have plenty of time to sightsee and explore.

Work Responsibilities:
Some elephants are overly large or have not been tamed or trained to a satisfactory level, whereby it is possible to safely have full hands-on contact. The majority of volunteer work deals more with the day-to-day aspects of running the orphanage, rather than more specialised research or veterinary based work, although you will have the opportunity to do some hands-on work

Part of your duties will include:

Supervising the bathing of the elephants in the river, this takes place twice daily.
Participating in bathing some of the smaller elephants.
Mucking out the elephant enclosures in the morning.
Mental stimulation of the elephants throughout the day.
You may be asked to help with possible construction or maintenance projects. Such projects are sporadic and are initiated in regards to requirements of the orphanage. Past work has involved preparing a watering hole, deconstruction of enclosures etc.
Subject to Availability & Experience:

Washing and feeding the baby elephants.
On one or two afternoons a week, you will be able to assist and observe the vets in their daily duties.
Some work, such as the mental stimulation of the elephants, is normally left to the initiative of the volunteers. The Mahouts (dedicated elephant trainers) may assist the individual volunteer in this, but you will need to initiate this work yourself.

Letty Beisley giving her charge a good wash

Warsina – cute, even with her head ina bucket!

You will live in a lovely house in the nearby town of Kegal. The house is typical of the Sri Lankan style and you will have all necessary facilities such as a washing machine and a comfortable communal living area to socialise in. There is a TV and DVD player currently on site (Sri Lanka is a great place to buy DVD’s, costing about a pound to buy in the cities of Colombo and Kandy).

Food and Transport
A live-in chef will cook all your meals for you and our current volunteers say that the food is delicious!! Transport will be provided for the 25-30-minute journey to and from the Pinawala Elephant Orphanage.

There are internet facilities in Kegal during the day. There is also a phone in the house that your family and friends can call you on. With a phone card that you can buy locally, you can make international calls home.

During the day Kegal bustles with people and street markets. The evenings are quiet with the Sri Lankan culture favouring early mornings and early nights. There are always a few volunteers on this placement together, so there is a very sociable atmosphere in the house. However, do keep the quietness in mind and be prepared for slow-paced evenings.

We have Travellers staff in Sri Lanka to give you help and support during your placemen. If you’re unfortunate enough to fall ill at any time, our local representative Chamindri – who is based in Pinawala – will be there to help you and, of course, our Sri Lanka Manager, Roshan Perera, will immediately respond to any request from you for assistance.

Remember, though, Sri Lanka is hot and humid so endurance and stamina will be a requirement for this facility!!

If you’d like us to arrange a placement for you on this programme, please fill in the application form as soon as possible because it is a very popular choice and fills up extremely quickly! For prices, please see below.

All your food and accommodation is provided and you will be met at Colombo airport and taken, usually by car, to Kegalle. You will have the same high level of support provided in all our programmes.

You can also combine a one-month placement in the Elephant Orphanage with two months in a teaching placement in Ja-Ela – this way you get the best of both worlds!

To read about the extensive Support & Backup we provide in our countries, please click here.

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You have the option to arrange your own flights or we can assist you with your flight arrangements. If you would like us to do this for you, we will liaise with you regarding available flights and dates to suit you. All arrangements for your flight bookings/payments will be fulfilled by Roger Murray Travel Ltd, who act as agents for ATOL protected operators. Where possible, we arrange for two or more people to travel on the same flight and we will let you have the names and telephone numbers of other volunteers on your flight, so that you can chat to each other or even meet up before leaving for your placement.
We can also arrange your flight dates to give you additional time at the end of your project for travelling around and sightseeing – this is a fascinating and wondrous country!
Where possible, all flights we arrange for you have changeable return tickets because many of our volunteers choose to extend their stay once they are in their destination country. Changeable return tickets enable you to do so, within the limits of your visa and the level of your air ticket, of course. If you choose to book your own flights, you should endeavour to get a changeable ticket. We meet you at the airport regardless of whether you make your own travel arrangements or not.
You will fly into Sri Lanka where you’ll be met at Colombo Airport by our Sri Lanka Manager, Roshan Perera, and taken to your placement. Roshan will make you feel welcome from the first moment you meet; he is a delightful person, laid back yet extremely efficient, and has become a friend-for-life to many of our volunteers!
VISAS:. You don’t need a visa for your first month in Sri Lanka and our local manager will arrange for a visa for the rest of your stay – we make the process very easy for you.

Bathtime is over
Bringing the elephants back from their daily bath
and frolic in the river !

It would be wise to consider including a fair amount of time for travelling around and sightseeing – this is truly a paradise country!

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Bathtime in the river

To read about the extensive Support & Backup we provide in our countries, please click here.

Prices include all your food and accommodation while on your project, as well as meeting you at the nearest airport, but excludes travel.
£1,795, for up to 2 months
£1,445, for up to 1 month
Flight Cost Guide – £600
Extra Months: If you wish to stay longer than two months, there is a supplementary charge of £550 for each additional month (subject to availability).

£1,945 for 2 months teaching and 1 month at the Elephant Orphanage
£1,645 for 1 month teaching and 1 month at the Orphanage
£1,895 for 1 month at the Elephants and 1 month at the Zoo
£2,295 for 1 month at the Elephant Orphanage and 2 months teaching at Wasgamuwa.

Read about the elephant orphanage
Read about our Teaching Placements