Duminda Jayaratne, Director, Department of National Zoological Gardens.
The Dehiwala Zoo is widely known as Colombo Zoo. It was established more than 68 years ago as a private animal collection centre by John Hagenbeck. Mr. Hagenbeck exported wild animals to Europe for trade. To hold the animals before exporting them to Europe he bought ~2 ha of land at Dehiwala, Colombo. In 1936 the centre was taken over by the government. The extent of the land was increased gradually to present status of 10.1 ha.
The objectives of the Zoo today are conservation, animal welfare, breeding, research and education. Colombo Zoo has established an education centre, which provides guide service for school, University students and all those who are interested in studying animals.
At Dehiwala Zoo there are six Asian and one African elephant kept, who are well trained. A new enclosure has been designed and is now under construction.
Ongoing projects concerning elephant research are:
1. The study of developmental and endocrinological changes associated with puberty and sexual maturity in female elephant.
2. The study of endocrine and metabolic profiles and behavioural patterns during oestrus cycle, gestation parturition and postpartum period of Asiatic elephant in captivity, in collaboration with Smithsonian institution U.S.A. and University of Peradeniya.