(Ministry of Wildlife & Forest Resources Conservation)
The Department of National Zoological Gardens, which started during the early years of the 20th century, is the pioneer institute that posses manage and conserve wild animals and display the animal collection to the public throughout the year in the country.
Initially it was established as a collecting depot for captured wild animals destined for the zoos of Europe and was taken to the government in 1936. When it was made an autonomous department in 1946, the main aim was to satisfy people’s curiosity and thus the zoo was more focused on entertainment rather than conservation.
The National Zoo in Sri Lanka also improved through the cultural, educational, scientific, and commercial variations towards conservation goal with the changes of world zoo concepts. Being a conservation center, managing captive populations, specially threatened species, a zoo can play an important role in conservation efforts according to the global continent.
At present, the Department of National Zoological Gardens has expanded to have Dehiwala Zoo, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Pinnawala Zoo, Ridiyagama Safari Park and a farm at Gonapola which provides fruits and vegetables for the Dehiwala Zoo animals.
The Dehiwala Zoo and Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage are well known all over the world and are visited by over 1.9 million visitors every year.
A need for new zoo arose with inability of expansion of Dehiwala Zoo and with the need of supplying adequate spacious enclosures according to the modern standards of the zoo world. Accomplishing the requirement, the new Zoological Gardens at Pinnawala was opened April 2015. A separate Master Plan has been implemented to develop Dehiwala Zoo to achieve the necessary standards.
To offer a novel zoo experience for Sri Lankans, to improve welfare and management of excess animals of the Dehiwala Zoo and to generate additional revenue for the country by promoting Eco – tourism, Safari Park at Ridiyagama, Hambanthota was opened to the public in March 2016 offering adventurous experience for the first time in Sri Lanka.