The National Zoological Gardens of Sri-Lanka (also called Colombo Zoo or Dehiwala Zoo) was founded in 1936. It is a short drive from Colombo and is situated on Anagarika Dharmapala Mawatha.
The Visions of the zoo is, “To create one of the world’s outstanding zoological institutions that are a centre of the excellence for conservation, research and education” and their mission statement is “Resourceful conservation of animals by means of learning, achieved through the exhibition of species which were adopted with loving care”.
The zoo has a membership of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums and regularly exchanges animals with other zoological gardens for breeding purposes. All animlas here are tried to provide a natural environment. There are over 3000 animals and 350 species. 100 species of mammal, 110 different types of birds, 65 species of fish, 3 amphibians and 10 species of marine invertebrates are found in the zoo. The zoo also plays a huge role educating the community and conservation of the endangered species.
The entrance fee is Rs 100/-. There is a butterfly park with a variety of species of butterflies. Watching the butterflies in their natural environment makes up for a nice view. Another side of the zoo is filled with a bird park built on a height which opens to the wild trees in the back. Birds like pelican, hawk, eagles, ostriches, owls, swans etc can be found here.
The colourful birds make up for a beautiful sight with their parks covered with lush green plants and flowers. You will also get to see a lot of animals relaxing in their natural habitat. Animals like lions, leopards, tigers are found here. Various species of bear can also be spotted along with chimpanzees, zebras and lions. Dears and elephants are also found here. There are also a variety of animal shows for the entertainment of the zoo’s visitors. The schedule somewhat is:-
Elephant show- 4.30pm (daily) and 3pm (special occasions)
Sea lion show- 4pm (daily)
Pony and elephant rides- 2.30pm to 4pm (weekends)
Educational program on reptiles- 2.30pm (weekends)
You will often find children on school trips here or a lot of families and tourists enjoying this abundant display of wildlife. There is a small restaurant in the zoo where the visitors can enjoy a nice meal.
Although a lot of concerns were raised about the treatment of animals here, the zoo has improved itself a lot and still remains a source of attraction.