Safari Tour at the Zoological Gardens
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