Pinnawala is an orphanage for breeding wild Asian Elephants and is located at Pinnawala village, and is notable for having the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. The elephants are fed in their stalls. Large quantities of jackfruit, coconut, kitul (sugar palm), tamarind and grass, brought in daily, form the bulk of the elephants food
The orphanage was established to feed, nurse and house young elephants found abandoned by their mothers. Young elephants sometimes fall into pits and ravines in their quest for water during drought period. Other orphans have been displaced from their wild habitat by development projects or have been found abandoned before weaning, diseased or wounded.
There are 48 mahouts (handlers) who take care of the elephants. The female and young elephants in Pinnawala range freely as a herd during the day in an area of a few acres. They are herded about .5 km (0.31 mi) twice a day to drink and be bathed in the river. At night, the females are individually chained in stalls. Adult males are do some light work such as transporting feed. They are chained and managed individually, Calves born in Pinnawala are not bottle fed, but a few from ETH are kept at Pinnawala and bottle fed as a tourist attraction.
The elephants are fed in their stalls. There is very little food they can gather from the premises of the orphanage except some grass. Large quantities of jackfruit, coconut, kitul (sugar palm), tamarind and grass, brought in daily, form the bulk of the elephants food. Each adult animal is given around 76 kilograms (168 lb) of this green matter per day and around 2 kg (4.4 lb) from a food bag containing rice bran and maize.