Jumbo losses continue at Pinnawala orphanage

The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage has suffered four losses so far this month – a two-month-old calf died by drowning, while three baby elephants were given out to private owners, according to reliable sources in the village of Pinnawala.

The ill-fated calf, born to adult elephant Kanthi, drowned during its daily bath in the Ma Oya. Meanwhile, the orphanage has resumed its practice of giving out elephants in its care.

Members of the Pinnawala community say that three elephants were presented to leading temples around the country.

Losing family members to temples and other parties: Pinnawala elephants go down for a bath in the Ma Oya

Meanwhile director of the Dehiwala Zoological Gardens, Bashwara Gunaratne said, a total of 15 Pinnawala elephants will be given out with the zoo’s approval. He said the recipients will be selected on their capabilities on looking after the animals.

In 2009, a bid to give two elephant calves to the Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth) triggered a controversy. In 2003, a Pinnawala elephant was given to the Ragama temple. This elephant, Kapila, consequently died of malnutrition.

There are allegations that elephants given out are poorly treated by their new owners, and often used for heavy-duty work. Animal welfare activists have called for a proper monitoring of elephants given away by the Pinnawala orphanage authorities.

In January this year, an elephant named Neelagiri died from wounds inflicted by mahouts. onsequently, several mahouts were suspended from their duties, and the Pinnawala orphanage assistant director was transferred.

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