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Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage (PEO) is a unique captive elephant-based recreation facility in Sri Lanka. Over 35,000 visitors (both local and foreign) visit the PEO per month on average for a variety of reasons. However, little or no attempt has been made to examine their reaction to its activities. This paper reports preliminary findings from two visitor surveys (one local and one foreign) conducted at the PEO to examine the characteristics of visitors, the satisfaction they gained from the visit, their attitudes towards conservation of the elephant, their reactions to the current facilities available at the orphanage, and their opinions and maximum willingness to pay (WTP) to enter the PEO. It is found that, although some variations occurred between the samples, the majority of all respondents showed a similar reaction to the activities and facilities at the Orphanage. However, some differences are evident between these two samples in relation to satisfaction received, responses to the WTP elicitation and attitudes towards the information and interpretive facilities. Overall, the majority of the respondents indicated that their support for the conservation of the Asian elephant had increased considerably with their visit to the Orphanage. This indicates that considerable unrecorded and as yet unutilised support could be generated both financially and otherwise to conserve this endangered species through wildlife based recreation facilities such as PEO in Sri Lanka.


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