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Sri Lanka’s bustling capital city, once called the garden city of the East still maintains some beautiful tree-lined boulevards reminiscent of those days. With its enviable sea-side location, cosmopolitan Colombo is a melange of sights, sounds and experiences – from its rich colonial heritage & architecture in the Fort area to the swanky hotels, cool cafes and busy bazaars. As you unravel the city’s many secrets on an exciting tuk-tuk ride, you can savour the city’s street food delights and shop for some wonderful handicrafts, silks and flavoured teas. Those travelling with kids must include the Dehiwala Zoo in their Colombo itinerary.

About Dehiwala Zoo

Dehiwala Zoo

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Located just a short drive away from the heart of the city, the National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka popularly known as the Dehiwala Zoo, is a sprawling green oasis & home to various species of fascinating animals, birds and butterflies. Established in 1936, it is one of the oldest zoos in Asia which also pioneered the open zoo concept. With over 2500 animals, Dehiwala zoo hosts numerous exotic and indigenous species of mammals, birds, reptiles & amphibians. Along with the amazing variety of flora, it is also popular for its lush green landscaped gardens and dense tree cover.

This lovely stretch of flora and fauna is one of the best places to spend some tranquil moments in the midst of nature, admiring the myriad animal species and soaking in the fresh clean air. Along with being a great place for wholesome entertainment for the children, this fantastic zoo has made great strides for animal conservation by breeding rare and endangered species.

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Top Places To See In Dehiwala Zoo

While acres of soothing green flora with colourful flower beds and forest patches are loved by everyone visiting the place, it is the amazing variety of Dehiwala zoo animals that fascinate both children and adults alike. The Dehiwala zoo map guides you to different sections of the sprawling zoological garden, which comprise of the following:

1. Walk-In Aviaries

Walk-In Aviaries

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Youre greeted by the awesome group of flamingos as you enter this wonderful section allowing you a peek into the colourful world of myriad bird species that populate the island of Sri Lanka. Kids will totally love the Dehiwala zoo birds section with its numerous parrots, flightless birds including the Emu and beautiful aquatic birds too. While the avian diversity at the Dehiwala zoo is sheer visual delight, watching the largest and fastest flightless bird, Ostrich, never ceases to amaze the little ones.

Two beautifully landscaped walk-in aviaries allow visitors to watch these marvellous creatures in their natural habitat. The swan pond and a waterfall are other major attractions for spotting pretty avian species as you amble along this section. Another pond at the zoo is surrounded by nesting ground of pelicans, night herons, egrets and cormorants. Along with the brightly-coloured macaws, lovebirds and pheasants, you can also spot painted storks during the migration season (November to February). Last but not the least, there are the birds of prey like kites, owls and majestic eagles.

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2. Aquarium


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Divided into three major sections freshwater, marine and brackish water the aquarium is a huge hit amongst kids and the star attraction at the Dehiwala zoo. A large variety of fish species endemic to the country have been painstakingly bred in the zoo ponds and 22 tanks spread in this area. The children can marvel at the various aquatic animals and closely observe their breeding patterns and other symbiotic behaviour, making this not just a fun experience but an educational journey too.

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3. Butterfly Garden

Butterfly Garden

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What can be more beautiful to young inquisitive eyes than the sight of colourful butterflies fluttering about in a pretty landscaped garden with a stream running through the centre- A walk through the small but lovely butterfly garden at the Dehiwala zoo opens up a world of wonder for your children. Rich in flowers and feeding plants for the butteflies, the section also displays the lifecycle of these lovely winged friends. In addition to the natural flower nectar, the butterflies are fed on artificially provided bee honey and fruit juices!

4. Elephant Show

Elephant Show

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The Dehiwala zoo is home to not just Asian but also African elephants so that the children get a chance to understand the difference between both species. Of all the exciting activities and shows organised at the zoo, the Dehiwala zoo elephant dance and show titled Hello to Elephants is the most popular with kids of all ages.

Dehiwala zoo elephant show time: 4:30PM daily; PM (special occasions)
For more information on other shows and Dehiwala zoo timetable of various activities, pls check their official website.

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5. Reptilium Section

Reptilium Section

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The Galpagos Giant Tortoise and crocodiles welcome visitors to the Reptilium section of Dehiwala zoo which exhibits around 32 endemic and foreign species of reptiles. You can spot snakes, lizards and different speces of crocodiles including the Dwarf crocodile which is a major attraction. The snakes section is home to fearsome species like the Hump Nosed Viper and Sri Lankan Cobra along with gigantic pythons. This interesting section also allows you to watch turtles, iguanas and terrapins living in harmony with each other.

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About Dehiwala Zoo Night Safari

Dehiwala Zoo Night Safari

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Since last year the zoo also opens up at night on weekends to allow visitors to observe nocturnal activities of the various animals. This thrilling and unique experience makes for a great family visit and is quite popular amongst locals also.

Timings: 7 – 10 PM (Fri-Sun)
Dehiwala Zoo Entrance Fee: Considering the experience offered by this animal paradise, the Dehiwala Zoo ticket price for SAARC visitors (including Indians) is quite reasonable.
Ticket price: LKR 700/adult; LKR 350/child
Dehiwala Zoo Timings: 8:30AM – 6PM daily

This fascinating world of animals & birds has also introduced the unique concept of birthday parties at the zoo to inculcate nature appreciation amongst the children. For more information on Dehiwala zoo open days and special activities for kids, you can check out their official website.

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Excited to visit the Dehiwala Zoo, already? Make sure you add this to your Sri Lanka trip itinerary for a fun-filled vacation with your loved ones! Happy holidays!

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Category: Places To Visit, Sri Lanka

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