In the very beginning, in 1972, the orphanage was located in Wilpattu National Park. Subsequently, the orphanage was shifted to the National Holiday Resort at Bentota Beach in the south-western coastal belt and then to the Dehiwala Zoo, 11km south of Colombo. In 1975, the Department of Wildlife of Sri Lanka set up its present home: the Pinnawala (Pinnawela) Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawala, Kegalle. Since then, it has never turned back on an orphaned elephant; it has welcomed all and expanded from four orphaned elephants to a gang of no less than 109.
The primary purpose of the orphanage has been to provide a lifeline to the orphaned baby elephants and adult elephants lost in the wilderness. On many occasions, the mother of the orphaned baby elephant has been killed, or there have been accidents of baby elephants falling into pits and losing out to the herd. There were also instances where the mother elephant fell into a pit and died, leaving the baby elephant lost in the jungle. There are instances of adult elephants being killed by farmers to protect their paddy fields and crops, resulting in baby elephants being orphaned.
The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage was launched to provide the best possible opportunity to the sad victims of such situations. Captive breeding at Pinnawala (Pinnawela) Elephant Orphanage