Sinister move against Dehiwala Zoo

By Harischandra Gunaratna

The Movement for the Protection of the National Zoo (MPNZ) yesterday said that there were moves by certain elements with vested interests to have the Dehiwala Zoological Garden closed.

Media Co-ordinator for the movement Shantha Jayaweera said the objective of those elements was to reduce the size of the present Zoological Garden on a 21-acre plot to around 2-3 acres.

Addressing a news conference in Colombo, Jayaweera said, "A newly formed foundation which claimed to be fighting for animal rights in Sri Lanka is spreading falsehoods claiming that animals in the Dehiwala Zoo were subjected to cruelty and some of the photographs they have posted on the Internet have been taken overseas. It has obtained 15,000 signatures from the public urging the government to close down the zoo."

When it was pointed out that the standards of the zoo had deteriorated, the members of the MPNZ agreed.

Jayaweera said annually the Dehiwala Zoo generated a revenue of Rs. 200-250 million.

"The Zoo has been able to breed some animal species extinct in other parts of the world, Jayaweera claimed.

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