25th July, 2004  Volume 11, Issue 2

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Natural habitat for zoo elephants

By Risidra Mendis 

The National Zoological Gardens (NZA) is to spend over Rs.10 billion to create a free living arena for its elephants.

The elephants that have been chained for many years are finally to be given a free roaming area in the zoo.

Zoo Director, Brigadier H.A.N.T Perera said the extent of land allocated for the elephant enclosure is a little more than one acre of land. "It is about time these animals had a free area to roam in" he said.

According to Brig. Perera, the free living arena for elephants is to be completed by the first quarter of 2005.

Apart from the elephants, the leopards, exotic birds and deer and sambhur enclosures are to be improved within the year. "The deer enclosure is extremely muddy and needs to be improved. We hope to remove the mud and raise the ground level of the deer enclosure. Greenery and tree trunks will be added to give the enclosure a natural look" explained Brig. Perera.

According to him, the leopard enclosure and the bird aviary will each cost Rs.6 million each. "The leopards are presently in cages. Our idea is to give them a bigger enclosure to live in. The money for the zoo activities is to be released from the treasury that is in turn controlled by the Environment Ministry," said.

The zoo that earns between Rs.1 to 6 million per month is expected to spend around Rs.22 million for its expansion.

While work on the leopard and bird enclosure will commence in August,  zoo officials will check on the progress of the activities every fortnight.

According to the director, work on the leopard and bird enclosures are expected to be completed by the end of this year.

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