The Millennium Elephant Foundation
The Millennium Elephant Foundation (MEF) is situated on a beautiful 15 acre estate known as ‘Samaragiri’, which has been home to the Samarasinghe family for many generations. The family has owned elephants since the 1960’s. In 1979 Mr Sam Samarasinghe (1939 – 1991) an animal lover opened the estate to the public as the Club Concept Elephant Bath.
The Millennium Elephant Foundation (NGO) charity was founded in Sam’s memory in August 1999 with the assistance of a world renowned animal charity.
MEF has been working continually to improve the care, protection and treatment of elephants in Sri Lanka by providing a place of care, medical services and facilities. Charity Number 457. Millennium Elephant Foundation is the only certified non-profit Organisation working with captive elephants in Sri Lanka.
The Millennium Elephant Foundation (MEF) was the first place to offer bareback elephant riding with an educational theme in Sri Lanka offering people the chance to interact with elephants in a safe and responsible way for both the person and elephant, whilst learning about the plight of elephants in Asia.
They have never used a howdah/seat which is really bad for elephants – only bareback, which is less stress on the elephant. However times are changing and they want to offer an alternative to riding and start a transition to stop elephant riding at MEF.
There are 9 elephants that either permanently or temporarily reside at the sanctuary. These elephants are taken care of by 13 local mahouts and a number of foreign volunteers. Since its inception, MEF has cared for more than 80 elephants.
The foundation is funded predominantly by tourists fees and volunteer donations. This money is used to develop and improve conditions for the elephants at MEF, as well as run an education program for farmers and their families in Habarana.
MEF strives to improve the care and treatment of Sri Lankan elephants whilst increasing awareness about the crippling conditions many of them face throughout the country. Tourists can observe and assist with their daily washing in the river that runs through the grounds. The funds generated from visitors are used to maintain the elephants’ well-being, and to enable the care and rescue of more captive elephants. MEF ensures that it strictly abides by the guidelines set by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.
MEF are transitioning to stop elephant riding by offering an alternative. Guests can have an educational talk, tour of our museum, bathe an elephant, visit the Maximus elephant dung paper factory and then instead of riding, walk with an elephant within the grounds whilst learning about Sri Lankan elephants.
This is a huge change here in Sri Lanka.
Elephant Walk Experience
The Elephant Walk Experience is the first step to MEF’s main goal of transitioning to non elephant riding, with your help and those of other guests and tour companies making the switch they will be able to do this. It will take time but they are determined to achieve their goal.
The walking package enables guests a much more interactive and close up experience, unlike bareback riding, elephants get the opportunity to walk at a leisurely pace and forage, while you casually stroll behind the elephant watching their every move and admiring the sheer size of these beautiful animals.
Elephant Walk Experience Program:
• Personalised guide for your whole tour.
• Educational talk by an expert about the Foundation, elephants and a tour of the museum
• At least a 30 minutes walk with an elephant around the grounds watching and observing the elephant whilst learning about Sri Lankan elephants
• Bathing the same elephant in the river, with only your group without other tourists
• Optional shower whilst standing next to the elephant
• Free entrance and tour of the Maximus Elephant Dung Paper Factory
• Optional 3 course lunch – including tea or coffee
• The whole experience lasts around 3-4 hours
• Cost is $43 per person
• Cost is $35 per person (without lunch)
• Children 3 years and under are free
• Children aged 4 to 12 years are half price