Millennium Elephant Foundation

Millennium Elephant Foundation

Millennium Elephant Foundation
4
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
About
A family Run NGO working to improve the lives of domesticated elephants throughout Sri Lanka. Charity number 457. Home of the exclusive Elephant Walk Experience, A personal safari that allows you to follow the elephant around the 15 acre coconut estate as they foragae and wander and graze as they would in the wild. The alternative to elephant riding option and the most ethical, u close and personal experience you can have with captive elephants in Sri Lanka Offering a volunteer program where guests can have the hands on experience of caring for these gentle giants, and the opportunity to learn all about the situation for elephants in Sri Lanka and the hard work of Millennium Elephant Foundation Located half way between Colombo to Kandy this is the ideal stop for a unique elephant experience. We also offer accommodation, refreshments and meals for our visitors to enjoy in our traditional colonial house, surrounded by luscious grounds and greenery for you to enjoy
Duration: 2-3 hours
Does not meet animal welfare guidelines
Tripadvisor does not provide bookings for this experience because it does not meet our animal welfare guidelines.
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  • Fiz25
    Manchester, United Kingdom67 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Pleasantly surprised
    Having read some of the reviews I was a little sceptical to attend MEF when our guide recommended the place. However, I was pleasantly surprised. We were met at the entrance to the ticket office by an English speaking young man. He told us what our options were with regards to what we want to do. We opted for the package without the elephant ride. This was 9400 rupees ( approx £24) for 2 of us. Once inside we were given some information about MEF. We were then introduced to the different elephants. We were then escorted to the river where we washed our elephant and met the Mahout ( elephant keeper). He didn’t speak much English but just smiled. We followed what he said and bathed the elephant. We then fed out elephant which we thoroughly enjoyed. Food baskets can be bought for 500 rupees once inside. Our elephant then made her way out of the water area and went for a short walk. In total we spent around 30 mins. The elephants were free and walking around. He walked us through the small museum area and explained us the different information about the elephants.
    Visited August 2023
    Travelled with family
    Written 1 August 2023
  • Bea
    Sydney, Australia2,430 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    I was unsure about visiting but glad I did
    Being an animal lover I was adamant that I didn’t want to ride the elephant (had a horrible experience in Kathmandu). The guide will give you options prior to entry, we choose to feed the elephant a fruit basket (purchase for 500 lkr) and bathe the elephant. The elephants did not seem stressed or unhappy at all and gladly accepted fruit or verbal commands from the mahoot. They did mention they will phase out the elephant riding ( however as tourists we should refuse to do so therefore the demand is not there). Compared to the elephants in Nepal I felt they were handled with more respect and care. These are domesticated elephants who have been surrendered or rescued.
    Visited August 2023
    Travelled with friends
    Written 16 August 2023
  • Eszter
    Vienna, Austria6 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great experience with elephants
    It was an amazing experience to ride, feed, wash and shower with the elephants in this foundation. It was a little bit touristical and everything had to happen very quick because next tourists were waiting for the elephants already but it was a great day and a great experience. We had a wonderful guide with us called Malinga who was organized by „Magyarok Sri Lankan“. It was a great daily trip, we enjoyed it very much with Malinga and would book it again by the agency which has a hungarian website but I‘m sure that they also understand and speak English. They are great, uncomplicated, reliable and have very friendly and nice guides.
    Visited August 2023
    Travelled with family
    Written 31 August 2023
  • Rahulakkara
    Mumbai, India372 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    MUST SEE ATTRACTION IN LANKA
    One of the best attractions in Sri Lanka. The place is privately owned . The entrance fees is a little high but that’s justified considering elephants have to be kept well and taken care off. Rightly so the elephants at the foundation are amazing specially POOJA the little one . From bathing them to strolling with them and even feeding them all this happens when u come to the foundation . Would highly highly recommend this for families with young kids when in lanka . It’s for everyone .
    Visited January 2024
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 27 January 2024
  • jayne w
    74 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Choose the walk and bathing experience
    Glad to see Raja and Lakshmi still best of friends! Some reviews mention animal care. These are domesticated elephants and cannot be released in the wild. They have worked in logging etc and often chained up alone much of their lives. This foundation lets them mix, wander around at their own pace some of the time, they get attended to by vets and fed properly. It is a compromise, they need tourist money to pay the elephants' owners so they have to interact with visitors too. Hopefully more people will choose walks and bathing with them rather than riding them. I found it magical and learnt so much about elephants.
    Visited March 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 30 January 2024
  • Disy1964
    Kent, United Kingdom80 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Elephants are us
    My Sri Lankan guide took me here believing it was the best place for Elephants and is run ethically via a registered Foundation where Vomunteers are saught from Across the Globe . I have read some reviews and think they just really don’t get it or didn’t bother to do their own research ! Generations of elephants have worked for a living on way or another and no back in the Uk we have zoos , no we don’t put them to work or even have any understanding how precious these animals are to the people of Sri Lanka . I was very impress with the knowledge and the short one and half hr intinery I had washing , walking and feeding Pooja . I never felt once that these beautiful animals were mistreated and found the educational part of the trip just as meaningful as the hands on experience . The mahout was just amazing ! I’d have suggested my grandchildren come here to volunteer when they are older . Great experience for me accept the huge spider in the shower lol
    Visited February 2024
    Travelled solo
    Written 19 February 2024
  • Jade S
    13 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A short shower with a twist!
    This was our second visit to MEF and the experience is just as amazing the second time around. The hands on experience you can have with the elephants is unbelievable. To be able to get so close to these beautiful animals is something I will never forget. The guides are extremely knowledgeable and can answer any questions. Highly recommend to anyone that wants to get close to these fantastic creatures.
    Visited April 2024
    Travelled with family
    Written 15 April 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as waiting time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.0
4.0 of 5 bubbles1,303 reviews
Excellent
670
Very good
196
Average
119
Poor
82
Terrible
236

G98
1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2024 • Friends
Absolutely devastating experience. The elephants are exploited for tourists which was heartbreaking to see. After going to an elephant safari a couple days before and seeing elephants in their natural habitat, visiting this place was a nightmarish contrast. This place is a prison for elephants, literally. The owners claim the elephants have been saved from terrible working conditions, yet this place is doing the exact same thing.

When we arrived, we were greeted with what I can only describe as an elephant in complete distress being forced to ‘pose’ in different positions with tourists. The elephant ‘handlers’ shout commands at the elephants and carry sharp metal prods which “poke” the elephants when they don’t obey the commands. The distressed noises the elephant was making in this moment made me want to cry.

We were then rushed to see a different elephant in the next small bit of water. This elephant was over 60 years old and looked tired, bored and generally very unhappy. The elephant handler again shouted commands at this elephant and it was forced to obey. Honestly, this elephant just looked defeated; I was very uncomfortable with the whole situation. We were then told we could bathe the elephant which we did as another worker there took photos on our phones. I have since deleted all these photos.

Some other notable things I noticed at this place were:
1. The elephants have no breaks from tourists; they are expected to take photos, be bathed, walked and ridden over and over again. On one hand, you could say that being bathed and walked is not cruel or unnatural; but these elephants are forced to do this hundreds of times a day over and over again. We were at this place for no more than 25 minutes and we saw multiple elephants being forcibly bathed and ridden, and that was just in the small section we were in. (Baring in mind there are only 6 elephants who are forced to ‘perform’ for hundreds of tourists every day!)
2. Some of the elephants have heavy chains around their necks and feet, supposedly due to safety reasons. My argument is that if this is the case and the elephant is dangerous to humans, then the elephant should not be exposed to hundreds of tourists every day. The elephant should be given a separate area to freely roam and feel safe, away from the constant stress of performing for tourists. Not to mention how cruel these chains are in already poor conditions.
3. After speaking with locals, it is well known that this place does not accept volunteers, probably because of the outrage this would cause if people found out just how poorly these beautiful elephants are treated. Instead, volunteers actually have to pay a hefty amount to ‘volunteer’ or help these elephants.

PLEASE do not visit this place. I’m still thinking about these poor elephants days after my own visit.
Written 11 May 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

C.H
London, UK4 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2024 • Friends
This was a difficult place to visit. When we saw the sadness in the eyes of these beautiful creatures, we almost left straight away. The elephants seemed very distressed- whilst we were there we saw the same elephant forcibly ridden and bathed by 3 different groups (we were only there for 20 minutes). We were told the elephants have to do this constantly up to the amount of people who visit each day which seems inhumane. They say they are saving the elephants from hard labour but they work them just as hard as the people they ‘saved’ them from. Also no way near enough space for the elephants to roam freely. Elephants clearly exploited for financial gain. If they really cared about them and were a true ‘foundation’ they would not be letting any of this to take place
Written 10 May 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

75LLO
Spalding, UK1,232 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2024 • Couples
We had reservations about visiting this place because of the reviews, but it was included in our tour, and we reasoned that we would leave if we ever got the impression that animals were not treated correctly.

Yes, these are “domestic elephants” that are in captivity, but enjoy plenty of room to roam, they are never caged. They are restricted at times to ensure they do not bolt and cause harm to themselves or others.

They do have chains, as dogs have collars and horses have bridles. We did not consider this to be a cruelty. The animals seemed happy and interacted with us, taking food from us and letting us bathe them.

I’d prefer to see animals in the wild, in the same way I’d love to see wild horses, yet we’re ok seeing horses kept as domestic animals. In Sri Lanka they have elephants instead.

You have a choice. We enjoyed the experience.
Written 8 May 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Jade S
13 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Family
This was our second visit to MEF and the experience is just as amazing the second time around.

The hands on experience you can have with the elephants is unbelievable. To be able to get so close to these beautiful animals is something I will never forget.

The guides are extremely knowledgeable and can answer any questions.

Highly recommend to anyone that wants to get close to these fantastic creatures.
Written 15 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

SV
Dubai, United Arab Emirates25 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2024 • Family
This is one place on our Sri Lankan itinerary which was a huge disappointment. The elephant is forced to pose for photographs for hours together, with the mahout poking it with his pointed tool to lift its legs for a pose. If you love elephants you should not visit this place .. it will sadden you to see them perform “ tricks “ for visitors. These gentle giants should be best viewed in their natural habitat and not be allowed to perform stunts for eager tourists waiting to touch them and pose with them for a photograph
Written 22 March 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Manvinder J
Ilford, UK8 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2024 • Couples
Sad to see that elephant rides still allowed. Their response was “Russians “ like it and we need the money

It’s a no win situation. We wanted to see with our own eyes. Yes typicall ignorant Russians sitting with two on the back of these majestic animals. Sad to chained ones due to the bulls in “musth”. Not much ethical about this place. Saddened
Written 12 March 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Minksymoo666
9 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2024 • Couples
We avoided Pinnawala after reading the reviews and decided to visit Millennium Elephant Foundation after it was recommended by a fellow traveller who had raved about the fabulous walk with elephants and bathing them afterwards. We arrived and were told that out of the 6 elephants held at the orphanage only 2 were there as the others had gone to an elephant festival (really??). The walk was not possible but we could ride, feed and wash the elephant. The fee was 6,500 lkr each. If we wanted to feed the elephant it was at an extra cost. We had a person reading to us from the information boards and then told to wait to bathe the elephant as those who had paid to feed and ride them took precedence. It was an awful experience watching the elephant being ridden and scrubbed by many others before our turn. We left before our turn as we were unable to tolerate the abhorrent spectacle of these animals. This was why we had not wanted to visit Pinnawala. We would 100% not recommend this experience.
Written 24 February 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mark
Prague, Czech Republic6 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2024 • Family
this was one of the saddest places i ever visited. the animals are treated horribly, theyre forced to perform and walk around cars and the staff certainly isnt nice. its all just a cashgrab for the purposes of snapping a few pictures for instagram. if you care about elephants or animals in general, do not visit.
Written 22 February 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Disy1964
Kent, UK80 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2024 • Solo
My Sri Lankan guide took me here believing it was the best place for Elephants and is run ethically via a registered Foundation where Vomunteers are saught from
Across the Globe . I have read some reviews and think they just really don’t get it or didn’t bother to do their own research ! Generations of elephants have worked for a living on way or another and no back in the Uk we have zoos , no we don’t put them to work or even have any understanding how precious these animals are to the people of Sri Lanka . I was very impress with the knowledge and the short one and half hr intinery I had washing , walking and feeding Pooja . I never felt once that these beautiful animals were mistreated and found the educational part of the trip just as meaningful as the hands on experience . The mahout was just amazing ! I’d have suggested my grandchildren come here to volunteer when they are older . Great experience for me accept the huge spider in the shower lol
Written 19 February 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ainsley L
Charlottetown, Canada25 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2023 • Family
Amazing experience! The museum was interesting with the bones and information, but the best was getting to feed the elephants fruit! We toured the sanctuary with Pooja and had the best time with such a gentle and beautiful animal.
Written 17 February 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Millennium Elephant Foundation - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024) - Tripadvisor

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