Wild, yes. But they seem to love company.

Pinnewala elephant orphanage, just over 80 km from Colombo, is on the “must visit” list of most tourists visiting Sri Lanka. It’s not hard to find out why.The elephants, almost all orphans picked up from various parts of Sri Lanka, are friendly to the scores of tourists flocking to Pinnewala. The elephants appear to pose for pictures and do not get perturbed by the incessant flashes that go off every time a new entourage arrives.

The human-animal interaction is facilitated by a largely barrier-free environment : only a few stones demarcate the “limits”. Every once in a while, an elephant roams across the barrier, and is firmly pushed back by the mahouts in the vicinity. And, most tourists, who hesitate for a short while at the sight of the huge animals, are put at ease by the mahouts.