Animal Magic - Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage, Sri Lanka

18:37 11 July 2011

Animal Magic - Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage, Sri Lanka

Animal Magic - Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage, Sri Lanka

Flatulent bubble baths, splashes and showers: Karen Bowerman watches a herd of seventy elephants enjoy bath time at Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage, Sri Lanka...

Splosh! An elephant rolls onto its side; a dome-shaped island rises out of the river. Soon theres a whole collection a path of giant, irregularly placed stepping-stones. The current alters its course. It swirls in and out of sinewy ears, flushes dust from creases of skin and dowses deep-set eyes. Jets of spray shoot up from appreciative, unfurled trunks.


A whistle pierces the splashing sounds in the river: bath times over! I hear a loud rumble, a sign of contentment. Its a chance response, from a beast with a bony body, wart-splattered back, and tusks that could have graced a mammoth. The other side of the river, splodges of grey act unaware. The elephants, cleansed and shining, lumber lazily through the water, wandering and wallowing, against a backdrop of sprawling coconut plantations and steamy, hazy hills.



Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage


Rambukkana Road, Kegalle,Sri Lanka


Many eco tour operators offer specialist wildlife holidays / wildlife and sightseeing holidays in Sri Lanka. One of the leading operators iswww.jetwing.com. Sri Lankan Airlines flies direct to Colombo from London Heathrow from 500 return.

Animal Magic



Flatulent bubble baths, splashes and showers: Karen Bowerman watches a herd of seventy elephants enjoy bath time at Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage, Sri Lanka.



The owner of the gem shop closes his shutters, the man with the trinket stall moves his tinkling wind chimes to one side, the tuktuks draw to a halt - the elephants are coming through.



Casually, and in their own time, the beasts of Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage lumber across the main road and into the small side street that slopes towards the Ma Oya river near Kegalle in central Sri Lanka.



They pass within a few feet of me: dusty eyes blink, skin hangs in folds beneath scaly bellies, mothers coax babies closer, youngsters jostle for space. Seventy odd elephants shamble towards the water, heading for a bathe.



At the river they put on an entertaining display a couple link up, trunk to tail and wade in; an elderly matriarch, her skin patchy and pockmarked, showers herself; a newborn delights in his own flatulent bubble bath.



But my favourite is the elephant that balances on a massive rock in the shallows, swirling the current dreamily with his trunk. His ears flap, open and close, like massive, leathery butterfly wings.



I head towards the river, over rocks worn smooth by erosion and the feet of those whove clambered this way before. Beside me two Indian girls in bright blue saris point and giggle, a father hoists his child high, a young couple hold hands and smile. All eyes are on the antics in the river.



A couple of grumpy, elephantine adolescents stand at the waters edge, refusing to go in, wishing they were somewhere else. The crystal clear water washes over their ankles, breaking in bubbles round their stumpy legs. One sways sulkily, its small ropey tail swishing idly from side to side. The other stands bolt upright, its trunk tucked close to its torso. Occasionally its ear twitches or it blinks, but its hoping not to be seen.



A cow elephant with flabby haunches approaches from behind. Theres a moments confrontation, the whoosh of a trunk and a bout of deafening trumpeting. The teenagers look nonchalantly then swing their heads and torsos in the other direction and slosh sullenly through the water. I lose them amid a mass of blotchy bodies and the flash of a curved tusk.



The elephants keepers, most in their twenties but some as young as fifteen, throw the odd, casual glance in their wards direction. Some carry poles with metal hooks at one end. They poke the animals when play gets out of hand and encourage them, with odd bursts of shouting, to lie down in the water. The day is hot, a scalding 35 degrees; the rivers the only chance to cool down.

1 comment

  • This establishment is not at all what it may first seem on the surface, and there are grave concerns relating to the welfare of the elephants at Pinnewala - see: http://www.bornfree.org.uk/campaigns/elephants/campaign-action/sri-lanka-elephants/responsible-tourism/pinnewala-elephant-orphanage/

    Add your comment |

    gabriel

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

More from Warwickshire Life

Mon, 12:23
Easter Bunny / Photo: Africa Studio

As spring arrives on our doorsteps gilding the grass with daffodils, Easter comes with it. As usual, there’s plenty to keep the family busy in and around the Cotswolds; here is our pick of 15 Easter events to get you out and about!

Read more
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Charingworth Manor

Promotional feature: Wedding photographer Jenny Aston asks wedding co-ordinators for their top tips when choosing the venue for your big day

Read more
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Large Kilim Rugs

Promotional feature: Richard and Louise Harvey from The Richard Harvey Collection whisk us off on a journey to the Far East with their collection of Kilims, Swat Valley chests, Spice Boxes, Altar Tables and Honey Pot lamps, among other jewels to create a peaceful haven in your home.

Read more
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Many young people who have been in care or forced to leave home due to family problems  find themselves struggling to cope alone - could you help? / Photo: Julia Karo

Barnardo’s Warwickshire is reaching out for local people to become approved Supported Lodgings Providers, giving shelter and support to young care-leavers.

Read more
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
The Cat in the Hat / Photo: Gary Lake

Katie Mitchell’s acclaimed stage adaptation of Dr Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat will embark on its first UK tour in 2015, playing at Malvern Theatres from Monday March 30 to Wednesday April 1.

Read more
Monday, March 23, 2015
Dinmore Manor locomotive at Toddington Station, Gloucestershire

While on work experience with Cotswold Life, Amy Woolridge of Cleeve School enjoyed a day out at Toddington as part of Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway’s Tourism Day

Read more
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Francis Hamel painting on site at Giffords Circus

Oxfordshire artist Francis Hamel was struck by the glamour and alchemy of Giffords Circus when he took his children to a show. The result was time spent touring with Giffords and a series of remarkable paintings…

Read more
Friday, March 20, 2015
Piers Linney

At Juniper Network’s recent Innovation Showcase in Sunnyvale California, on March 11 2015, Juniper unveiled a range of new products that focus on transforming networks so customers can capitalise on new growth opportunities brought on by the connected world.

Read more

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP


Warwickshire's trusted business finder

subscription ad

subscription ad