There are several places one can go to interact with elephants between Colombo and Kandy, but after doing a fair bit of research, I decided this was the most ethical place. They do not have any babies because they do not breed the elephants in captivity like some other “rescues” in the area do. The have only a few elephants, the youngest of which is already 20 years old. MEF has been around for quite some time and appears to treat the elephants very well. While they do allow for rides (bareback only), we opted to do the elephant walk and then bathe the elephant in the little river on the premises.
Our elephant's name was Ranmenika and she seemed to really enjoy her walk around the grounds. The boys have a lot of fun watching her tear apart the palm leaves and watching her eat, and we learned a lot from our guide, Podi.
After our walk, we got to give Ranmenika a bath in the river. The boys were very hesitant at first but quickly got over it. Owen scrubbed away with a coconut shell and Oliver loved splashing her.
The experience we had was truly incredible, and Ramenika appeared to be a happy, healthy elephant. At no point was she in chains, and her manhout, Ananda, was very gentle with her. It was a pleasant experience, and I am happy we choose this over some of the other options in the area. It was a great way to start Sri Lankan adventure!