Zoological Gardens (Dehiwala Zoo)

The Dehiwala Zoo is one of the oldest zoological gardens in Asia, and is home to an admirable collection of birds, mammals, fish and birds. Entertainment wise, there are a lot of shows, especially the elephant performances which are a highlight.


  • It is one of the oldest zoo’s in Asia
  • The zoo is home to a commendable collection of mammals, birds and reptiles
  • There are 72 species of mammals
  • There is an impressive 89 species of fish, and the aquarium is one of the major attractions
  • 50 of the fish species are endemic to Sri Lanka
  • There are 30 species of butterflies


The National Zoological Gardens, often referred to as the Dehiwala Zoo, is set in a well-landscaped area of 30 acres and has a wonderful collection of birds, reptiles, fish and mammals. The Dehiwala Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in Asia.
The zoo was first inaugurated as a menagerie in the 20th century by John Hagenbeck; the brother of Carl Hagenbeck who was a renowned animal trainer and dealer. The then 11 acre plot of land was used as a collection place for animals set to be sent to Europe. :
The Dehiwala zoo stands as an iconic attraction for many generations – especially for young children who wait in anticipation to visit this beloved zoo. This is where the famous elephant dances and shows have taken place for many years, a spectacle that many have grown to love over time. Large crowds of families plan their visit to the zoo clad with plenty to eat and drink, while their children run around to get a close-up look of the curious animals. The zoo has become the preferable choice when it comes to school children’s day out, as they all line up obediently, but slightly impatient. They are treated with cooling ice cream cones that they do enjoy happily.
It is a place where families do rejoice with their children, spending quality time and helping them learn the different species of animals.
At present the Dehiwala Zoo accommodates 65 species of birds, 72 species of Mammals, 89 species of fish, 31 species of reptiles, 30 species of butterflies and 03 families of amphibians. The star attraction of the zoo is the Aquarium. 50 species of fish endemic to Sri Lanka have been identified and a variety of species are exhibited here. Visitors have the opportunity to observe behavioral patterns of aquatic creatures from outside the tank. Walking through the Reptilian, Aviary and Butterfly Park transports you to whole new world. Daily elephant performances too can be seen.
A visit to the Zoological Garden will definitely be a worthwhile and memorable experience.