There are two sides to Colombo Zoo. It’s both a depressing place and a hopeful place. It’s like going back in time to when zoos were about displaying the trophies of expeditions to foreign lands. It’s a place where leopards are kept in wrought iron cages with slabs of concrete to sleep on and no room to run. It’s a place where elephants are chained to sheds, anxiously swaying from side to side while patrons yell and point at them.
It’s also a place where a group of student zoologists volunteer their time to turn all of this around. We were lucky enough to get a tour of the Zoo by one of these inspiring students and witness how things are changing. As is the case in Sri Lanka things don’t happen quickly, unless it’s Sangakkara batting in a T20, so change will take time.
These young zoologists help improve enclosures so that they are larger, more natural and provide more stimulation for the animals. It was great to see people who are passionate about an issue getting out and actively changing things for the better. Hopefully the Colombo Zoo continues to change so that its residents have a more comfortable and interesting life.