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 Out & About

Friday, September 30, 2016

Want a quick break from the Cotswolds, without spending half a day on the motorway or wedged into a seat on a cattle-class flight? A quick jaunt down the M5 and you too could be jumping the waves on a Devon beach

Read more
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Candia McKormack experiences the extreme highs and lows of an astonishing comedy with a dark – but warm – heart at Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre

Read more
Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Gloucestershire’s Charlotte Dujardin retains her Olympic title, whilst posting a new Olympic record with her dancing partner Valegro at Rio 2016

Read more
Monday, August 1, 2016

From the honey-coloured stone cottages in Burford, to the medieval architecture of Winchcombe high street, the Cotswolds are home to some of the most beautiful scenes in the world. But how many of these pretty towns and villages have you visited?

Read more
Monday, July 11, 2016

Cotswold villages are some of the most beautiful in Britain – think honey-coloured cottages, cosy pubs, tiny tearooms and narrow streets. We pick ten of the prettiest Cotswolds villages to explore.

Read more
Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Oak and Furrows rescue centre appeals for aid as a large number of sick and injured wildlife arrive for urgent care

Read more
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

HRH The Prince of Wales, patron of Music in Country Churches, attended a concert at Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, on Saturday, May 21, 2016. The concert was performed by the English Chamber Orchestra and featured British cellist, Caroline Dale.

Read more
Thursday, April 28, 2016

Candia McKormack and family go in search of tranquillity – and a good WiFi signal – on a short break in a Cotswold log house

Read more
Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Keep that rubber on the road with a motivational refuel at one of these top cycling cafés in the Cotswolds.

Read more
Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The days are getting longer and the Cotswolds are gradually becoming a floral delight, but there are still plenty of opportunities for frosty morning walks and toasting your feet in front of the fire. Springtime in the Cotswolds is absolute bliss as these pictures show.

Read more
Monday, March 14, 2016

If captivating grade-listed buildings with landscaped gardens are your thing, you’ve come to the right place. We pick 9 of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring stately homes you simply need to visit this year.

Read more

Tracy Spiers goes in search of the unusual and eclectic, and is delighted by what she discovers in freewheeling Shipston-on-Stour

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up


Topics of Interest


A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad
subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Warwickshire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search