Colombo Zoo

Colombo Zoo


      Colombo Zoo is reputed for being one of best zoological gardens in South Asia. The Colombo Zoo was established in the early 19th Century and is approximately 11 kilometers from the city center. Also referred to as the Dehiwala Zoo, it was established as a center for private animal collection by John Hargenberg. But in 1936, the government undertook the management of the center making it one of the most frequently accessed tourist attractions in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Housing an approximate number of 350 species of animals, the objectives of the National Zoo of Colombo is animal conservation, breeding and researching. Most of the tourists comprise of family vacationers and children and to educate these young minds, the Zoo houses an education center that offers guide services to school groups and interested tourist groups.

The most important part of the Colombo Zoo is the Elephant enclosure which is home to six Asian and one African elephant. Other enclosures include the Reptile House where one can enjoy viewing the rare albino cobra and the python. One can also see little tortoises which are placed along the ferocious crocodiles. If one is an avid marine life enthusiast then head for the in-house Mini Medura which features 500 different species of fishes. Children will certainly love to see the wide variety of fishes with different shapes and colors. Another popular destination inside the Colombo Zoo is the Nocturnal House. As the name suggests, few of the nocturnal species like owls, bats and lemurs are displayed here within their natural habitats.

The highlight of the zoo is the elephant circus which is organized throughout the week. One can view these huge pachyderms perform all sorts of antics including standing on their heads, hopping and standing up on their hind legs. Children will certainly enjoy this elephant show. Though the antics are very enjoyable, the most attractive part of the show is the mouth organ played by the larger elephants.

Apart from being a remarkable tourist destination, what has helped the Colombo National Zoo earn worldwide recognition is the successful breeding programs which have been started for animals like leopards and the Arabian Oryx.  

Recommended review time for sightseeing: 4 h

Sightseeings nearby
Tourist reviews about Colombo Zoo

Small place but a nice place for residents of colombo
Mohamed N [TA], ,

Small place but a nice place for residents of Colombo. I would not recommend this place for a veteran zoo goer who is on holidays in Colombo.

Heck if you have time drop by.

a place with so much potential
Sudantha8... [TA], , Nugegoda

We visit the zoo at least once a year. We were at the zoo with our 2 1/2 year old daughter in Aug 2014. During the last few years we saw some construction to expand and upgrade the zoo which unfortunately have yet to be completed or have not made an impact. It's sad to see that the animals were neglected and that the public visiting were so selfish and uneducated on disciplines around zoo animals. The zoo needs to change focus from just exhibiting animals to educating visitors on respecting animal life. Huge potential, but a long way to go!

So Sad
Jashinta... [TA], , Cairns, Queensland, Australia

I was so excited to visit the zoo and see elephants and other animals, but was so sad at the conditions they have the animals in. lion and leopard in their cages groaning away in pain and had pieces of meat chucked on the floor which the rats were enjoying. it seemed that nobody care for the welfare of the animals since all cages seemed to have animal faeces which looked like had been there for days. its ridiculous how they charge so much but cant even look after their animals properly because they are the ones making them so much money.

Go there for the Elephant show
frontierm... [TA], , Ghaziabad, India

There is an elephant show here every evening which is a must watch. Go there early to get the best view seats

Fantastic experience
Aly D [TA], , UAE

The butterfly enclosure was a treat the best I've ever seen....most of the other exhibits had animals that were familiar but healthwise better compared to other zoos in well developed countries.

old fashioned zoo, plan to spend atleast three hours, go mid day
moyenan [TA], , Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan

Unlike other tourist attractions, we saw many locals here. Local snacks etc too. missed the butterfly farm as we went late. Do visit the website and plan a trip there. Eleven year old son thoroughly enjoyed the snake house and aquarium-anaconda and pirannas! even though we could not get a seat for the elephant show, he loved the zoo.

Not an animal friendly place
shifa_ja [TA], , Colombo, Sri Lanka

I have not been there very recently but I have no reason to believe that things have changed since then. I really feel sorry for all the animals especially the big ones who are housed in small areas.
Where cleanliness is concerned it is OK. There is quite a variety of animals to see.Could be quite educational. The aquarium is quite nice too.

Nice place to spend an afternoon
Tilakfer [TA], , Colombo, Sri Lanka

The Dehiwala is the only proper Zoo in Sri Lanka and is owned and operated by the Government.
Its just 10 kilometers south of Colombo and about 8 or 9 KM from major city Hotels.
The best time to get there is around 3 or 3.30 pm. go there on a weekday, also avoid Fridays as it will be crowded with school kids.All the animals are in cages or enclosures which have the names of the animals and also from where they are. It is not necessary to have a Guide walk along with you. follow the arrows and you will not get lost.

Nice afternoon at Dehiwala Zoo
Mihaela11 [TA], , Amman

We visited Dehiwala zoo on a holiday day and the queue was very big, but the people were very civilized and the staff was very efficient .
The entry ticket's price was very fair compared to other attractions, and considering the income of the locals it's only fair to have prices to allow their children to enjoy the zoo.
The zoo was very nice on my opinion, many rare animals and birds; beautiful trees, bushes and flowers pleased our eyes.
There was plenty of food for the animals and the elephants were carrying food for the gazelles , delighting the children.
Everybody enjoyed the afternoon that day at the zoo.

Best Zoological Garden in South Asia
Neranja D [TA], , Colombo, null, Sri Lanka

It has to be expand and for some animals living area is not adequate.
Rare kind of animals and birds have to be imported from other countries.

Large number of species, but not well taken care
Kevin R [TA], , Ja-Ela, null, Sri Lanka

Not to mention this one of the largest Zoo available here in Sri lanka. Also a large variety of species available here. But the management here does not even know how to treat/maintain animals. They are not looking after the animals well. This place is really dirty. Lions / tigers are enclosed in small cages they can barely walk. They are not feeding them well. It is really unpleasant to see those things and the government should pay attention to this.

Can be improve much more.
nSugu [TA], , Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Need to be more concern about cleanness. Also less Coffee shops/ Cafe for visitors.

A trip into the dark ages
Arugam [TA], , Colombo, Sri Lanka

Well worth a visit. To see how earlier generations treated animals in very small enclosures. One feels sad about the big cats and elephant.
But the setting itself is good, and it's condensed space makes it a 'memorable' visit indeed

Sri Lanka Zoo
Mosibe [TA], , Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

It is very are able to reach within one hour from Colombo.

Expensive & Dirty
Mark_and... [TA], , High Wycombe, United Kingdom

Although the guide books tell you this Zoo is relatively good, we didn't really enjoy our experience. There is a massive range of animals but they were living in quite cramped and dirty conditions. It's also quite expensive for non Sri Lankans to get in.

If you go - take mossie repellant!

Lovely Zoo
Ankurrm [TA], , Surat, India

Its a very well maintained zoo. Can find a variety of animals and even some rare species..

Severely neglected with poor conditions for animals
vit666 [TA], , Colchester, United Kingdom

This zoo had once been the pride of south asia...sadly those days are long over. Decades of neglect are manifested in the poorly maintained environment and horrible conditions for the animals. The aquarium is the only part that is OK. The big mammals live in cramped quarters with hardly any natural vegetation for cover. We paid the local price being Sri Lankan nationals but the pheomenally high rate for foreigners should deter all but the most bored tourist from the place.

Very expensive
boltonsam [TA], , bolton

2000 SL rupees for adult entry + a fee for camera/ camcorder is crazy for a country that is generally very affordable.

Good collection of big cats including white tigers, and jaguar panthers. Really no comparison to variety of animal in bigger western zoos, such as Chester.

Enclosures are generally quite small and squalid. The elephants were chained and bored out of their mind under a huge shelter.

Although, I make a conscious effort to visit the city zoo whenever I am on holiday, Colombo Zoo is not one of my favourites.

Very good potential; variety and quantity of exhibits is very good
ACD_76 [TA], , Singapore

The majesty of leopards, tigers, lions and elephants is lost when the captivity is what is really most striking. In the case of the jungle cats, that means tiny cement floors enclosed by iron bars, and in the case of the elephants, chains around their ankles that they are actively trying to get rid of. A zoo is by nature a place where animals are no longer in the wild, but this was a bit too sad to really enjoy, unlike for example Singapore, which, granted, is much better funded, but nevertheless has animals in their habitats instead of in jail. Not to be all negative though - I was really impressed by the variety and quantity of exhibits.

Probably one of the most expensive zoos of the world
mondialis... [TA], , Wiener Neustadt, Österreich

If anybody knows a zoo in the western world where a family with 3 little children pays about 45 Euros entrance, please let me know. I'm not sure if there is any. Decide yourself if you want to support this practice.

Concentration Camp for Animals
Animalcra... [TA], , Colombo

For an attraction that has so much potential, the Dehiwela Zoo is an indication of all that ails this country. Milking a cash cow & putting absolutely nothing back into any visible improvement/s seems to be the mantra. On weekends, the place is jam packed to the brim with visitors, who seem to have no real interest in the exibits; except to just have "fun" & despoil the already grim environs. Sri Lankans love to talk of their glorious past........sure this zoo was many moons ago, renowned as one of the best in Asia.......but that's all in the past. The administration seems to be interested in filling up the zoo with visitors whenever possible, without any thought for the welfare of the exibits. Loud shouting & screaming, Loud music blaring out of Loudspeakers within the premises, crowds jostling at every conceivable entrance & exibit.........I don't think "Animal Welfare" is the guiding principle behind the entire operation. In fact many of the exibits are in poor condition & housed in worse conditions. This place wud be an "Animal Rights" campaigner's worst "Nightmare" & a sad place for any animal lover to visit.

Payment methods