I've never been to an animal orphanage.
I've never seen elephants up close.
On May 2nd, I got to check off both of these objectives at the same time.
For 1 hour each day, this elephant orphanage opens to the public. You stand around the "play area" and watch elephants eat, play and relax. There are two sessions, in fact. One for the little ones (an ironic statement, because they never really seem small; only in relation each other): 3 to 18 months. And a second session for what I've termed "the teenagers": 18 to 36 months.
When the elephants are 3 years old, they leave this sanctuary for another area.
There, they are placed with a group of older elephants to learn the hierarchy and "ways to elephant."
As an incentive to enter the observatory area, the handlers have milk (more akin to human baby formula; I learned that cow's milk is actually very dangerous to their digestive systems)...and the elephants LOVE their milk!