Department of National Zoological Gardens


Dehiwala Zoological Gardens was started by Mr. John Hargenbergin early 1920’s as a private collection in 11 acres. It was officially taken over by the Government on the 1stof July 1936. It was established as an independent public department in1946 and later administrative and management functions were subjected to National Zoological Gardens act no41 of 1982. At present, the Department of National Zoological Gardens is having three operational units; Dehiwala National Zoo and Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and Pinnawala Zoo  and the Ridiyagama Safari Park is under construction. 


‘‘ To become an institution which maintains the best zoological  gardens in the world”


‘‘ Under the new zoological gardens concepts while adopting attractive techniques and  proficiencies, providing habitats under accepted rules and regulations  as well as with  maximum protection Exhibiting a healthy collection of animals”  

 Key Responsibilities

  • To maintain a diversified native and exotic collection of animals in near natural habitats.
  • To assure the survival, well-being and natural behavioral characteristics captive animals.
  • To ensure ex-situ conservation of wild fauna species with special emphasis to threatened, endangered and endemic species of the country.
  • To preserve the animals that is on the brink of extinction.
  • To conduct conservation breeding programs.
  • To conduct research to widen the knowledge base on animals and on other zoological disciplines.
  • To exhibit captive animals with minimal disturbance to their lifestyle for knowledge gain and amusement.
  • To conduct education and outreach programs to assist informal education especially of school children.
  • To cater to the tourism industry through innovative concepts of display and by promoting ecotourism.
  • To formulate policies, plans and guidelines for administration and management of the zoological establishments and aquariums in the country.
  • To provide safe and satisfying environment to workers and visitors.
  • To collate and participate actively in international associations and networks of zoological gardens and animal exchange programs.
  • To encourage zoo based special interest organizations, foreign and local volunteers, external researchers, students and groups of interested parties to work with the department.
  • To develop supportive facilities such as feed farms, audio visual units, equipped auditoriums, modern laboratories, animal hospitals, separation units, museums, libraries, etc.
  • To adhere to proper environmental safety measures.
  • To operate uninterrupted maintenance and upgrading programs.
  • To launch mutually beneficial  management programs with general public and schools.

Main Objectives

  • Animal care and wellbeing
  • Conservation and Breeding
  • Research
  • Exhibition and outreach
  • Entertainment and recreation

Operational Units

  • The National Zoo in Dehiwala
  • Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage 
  • Pinnawala Zoo
  • Safari Park in Hambanthota