Toll Free: 1-800-675-2504 ( USA )

Project At A Glance
Pinnawela and Kegalla
Start Point:
End Point:
2-12 weeks
30-40 hours per week
Local meals (3 times a day)
At-orphanage,host family or motel
First and Third Monday
of each month

Along the banks of the Maha Oya River sits a former-coconut plantation that houses the largest herd of captive elephants in the world! The government established the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka as a sanctuary in 1975. It is nestled in 25 acres of lush forest and serves as a feeding and nursing ground for young elephants that live there. Originally established for lost or abandoned elephants, the breeding program has seen the birth of more than 20 elephants since 1984.

Elephant orphanage interns will interact directly with the baby elephants: bottle-feeding them and walking alongside these curious, wondrous creatures as they lumber lazily down to the river for a twice daily, splash-filled bath. Like human children, these almost-helpless young elephants also need love, care and attention. The elephant orphanage center is resource-poor and able-bodied interns to provide optimal care for these gentle giants are desperately needed. This project is a rare and amazing opportunity for hands-on experiences with elephants.

No specific qualifications are required to be an intern in the elephant orphanage project. However, interns should have a deep love for animals. Interns need to be physically capable and content to spend much of their workday outside.
Interns work directly with the “mahouts" (elephant handlers) and act as their assistants. Interns spend a lot of time interacting with the elephants, providing mental stimulation and the ideas for this interaction are usually left to the interns with some guidance from the "mahouts”. Interns will also take the elephants to bathe in the river twice a day, clean and maintain enclosures in the morning, wash and feed the baby elephants and help with general construction or maintenance work as needed.
In Sri Lanka, all interns stay with well-screened host families. Our host families are socially respected and are well versed in the art of hosting international interns. Host families offer a safe home, private rooms (occasionally rooms will be shared with other same-gender interns ) and shared bathroom facilities with running water and a “local” style toilet. You receive three prepared meals per day. If you will be out of the house during lunch hour, you can request a lunch "to go" that you can take with you or eat out on your own. Host families provide typical meals that are traditional to Sri Lanka . Rooms are shared, as are bathroom and kitchen facilities. For a small additional fee, interns can opt to stay in a modest seaside motel. Please note this preference in the initial internship application.

Throughout the internship project, our local staff stays in contact with interns with either face-to-face visits or via email/telephone and interns have 24/7 access to our in-country staff. With longer placements, we visit our interns every two weeks (when possible) and interns are always welcome at the local office. If project placement is local, we request that interns stop by the office once a week to keep us posted on how they are doing with their home stay and project. If project placement is very far, then our local staff members maintain communication by either email and/or phone.