A huge step forward in how wildlife is managed in captivity—and a boost for tourism—has been made by Sri Lanka’s Dehiwela Zoo, which is run by the Department of National Zoological Gardens.

The Ridiyagama Safari Park provides a natural habitat for the zoo’s excess animals, conducts breeding programs on threatened animal species, and educates people on animal conservation.

It is planned to extend the present 80 acres up to 500 acres, and include more zones that will create space for the Bengal tiger, leopards, sloth bears, Asian/African herbivores, cheetahs, reptiles, a butterfly garden, and an animal breeding and conservation center.

Camping sites, circuit bungalows and a leisure area for children will attract more foreign visitors and locals by adding another landmark destination to the tourist map of Sri Lanka.

The National Zoological Gardens, Dehiwala – more commonly called Colombo Zoo – dates back to the early years of the 20th century when John Hagenbeck, brother of animal trainer Carl Hagenbeck, created the Ceylon Zoological Gardens at Dehiwala.

It was used by the Hagenbecks as a collecting depot for captured wild animals destined for the Zoos of Europe. But the company was bankrupt in 1936, and was bought by the government.

 

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