Elephants protected at Sri Lanka shelter
March 12, 1997
Web posted at: 11:42 p.m. EST (0442 GMT)
PINNAWELA, Sri Lanka (CNN) -- An elephant orphanage that affords the chance to observe the animals at close quarters is turning into a popular tourist attraction.
The orphanage opened in the early 1970s to provide a home
for wounded or sick elephants, or animals unable to survive
in the wild because of the loss of forest cover.
"Large areas of jungle have been cleared and because of this, space... for elephants is becoming more and more restricted," said orphanage director K. Seelaratne.
After small beginnings, the orphanage has grown into a
wildlife reserve with more than 60 elephants enjoying tropical surroundings.
The orphanage is also becoming a breeding center. Sri Lanka's dwindling elephant population has plunged to less than 3,000 from 19,000 at the turn of the century.
Plans call for increasing the orphanage's population to about 100, then to open a second orphanage, Seelaratne said.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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