Sa­fari Tour at the Zoo­log­i­cal Gar­dens

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - NEWS -

Last year on the ad­vice of then Min­is­ter of Wildlife Mr. Gamini Jayaw­ick­rema Per­era, the De­hi­wela Zoo­log­i­cal Gar­dens com­menced a ‘ night tour’ ex­pe­ri­ence for vis­i­tors to the fa­cil­ity.

Un­der the scheme, the Gar­dens which nor­mally close at 6.00 pm, were to re­open to vis­i­tors at 7.00 pm and con­tinue un­til 10.00 pm. The pro­gramme fea­tured a tour of the gar­dens on foot, or for the pay­ment of a fee of Rs. 2,000/- vis­i­tors were able to hire an eight-seater elec­tric ve­hi­cle for what was sup­posed to be a sa­fari-like ex­pe­ri­ence.

Un­for­tu­nately bad plan­ning, a lack of suf­fi­cient staff and bad light­ing fa­cil­i­ties have brought com­plaints from both lo­cal as well as for­eign tourists. The lack of su­per­vi­sory staff saw nu­mer­ous in­ci­dents of vis­i­tors an­noy­ing the an­i­mals and the stressed an­i­mals throw­ing them­selves onto the bar­ri­cades which separated them from their tor­men­tors.

The ‘ sa­fari’ also en­vis­aged vis­i­tors feed­ing Ben­gal Tigers, photo op­por­tu­ni­ties with rep­tiles, fish mas­sages and avail­abil­ity of din­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

Story and pix by M.A. Push­paku­mara

The lack of proper light­ing fa­cil­i­ties, in ad­di­tion to the other short­com­ings had vis­i­tors leav­ing the Gar­dens frus­trated and dis­ap­pointed.

If the pro­gramme is to be suc­cess­fully im­ple­mented with­out ad­di­tional stress to the un­for­tu­nate an­i­mals on dis­play, the au­thor­i­ties need to re­think the pro­gramme as a whole and not merely as a money-spin­ner.

A lion yawn while on ‘over­time’ at the De­hi­wela Zoo­log­i­cal Gar­dens

The pro­gramme of­fered mem­bers of the pub­lic the op­tion of feed­ing th­ese ma­jes­tic beasts

In­ad­e­quate light­ing fa­cil­i­ties have left vis­i­tors groan­ing in dis­ap­point­ment

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