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National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka Species Formerly Kept at Dehiwala Zoo (National Zoo of Sri Lanka)

Discussion in 'Sri Lanka' started by Kestrel, 15 Jul 2022.

  1. Kestrel

    Kestrel Member

    14 Jul 2022
    Sri Lanka
    Over the 86 year history of the National Zoo has housed numerous species from across the globe, including some very rare species. The peak of the zoos fame and prestige occurred during the period when the zoo was directed by the late Deshabandu Lyn de Alwis. During his 30-year span of service from 1955 to 1985 as zoo director the zoo housed a whopping 2000 species including fish. Lyn de Alwis was highly regarded in the zoo community for his many accomplishments such as designing the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, as the Director of the Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Dehiwala Zoo, and as the Chairman of the IUCN/SSC AsESG.
    This is far from a complete list, I will try my best to update the list once I am able to obtain more information.
    I will be dividing this list according to the time period when the species were on display at the zoo (this has been divided according to the most recent information I was able to obtain, therefore some of these species may span over several time periods.)

    1. Species that the zoo opened with
    Malayan Tiger
    Sun bear

    2. Species that were housed during the tenure of director Lyn de Alwis (1955-1985)


    Western Gorilla*
    clouded leopard
    Kodiak Island brown bear
    Red Panda
    Woolly monkey
    Black-backed white stork
    North China Leopard
    Chinese mountain cat
    Javan rhino???***
    Spotted hyaena
    Brown fur seal
    King colobus
    Malabar giant squirrel


    Eurasian hoopoe
    Spotted woodpecker
    Purple Turaco
    Black-necked swan
    Bronze winged pigeon
    Crested partridge
    White-rumped Shama
    Humboldt's penguin
    Luzon bleeding-heart
    Red-tailed black cockatoo
    Palawan peacock-pheasant
    Germain's peacock-pheasant
    White-naped crane
    Black-backed white stork****
    American flamingo
    Vernal hanging parrot
    Lord Derby's parakeet
    African grey parrot
    Brown eared pheasant
    Mottled wood owl


    Blue tang
    Pyjama-striped trigger
    Yellow longnose butterflyfish
    Crown-of-thorns starfish
    Mantis shrimp
    Tin-foil Barbs
    Tiger Barbs
    Atlantic tarpon
    Ruby barb
    Cherry Barb
    Electric eel*****


    Chinese giant salamander******

    Gila monster
    Mangrove monitor
    Red-tailed boa
    Burmese python

    *Dehiwala has only housed 2 Western gorillas. Mimbo and Lima were acquired for the zoo by Carr Hartley, Senior Partner of Tanganyika Game Ltd from Cameroon when he read about them in the newspapers, after their parents were shot dead by poachers. They were transported via Kenya and were accompanied by Patrick Hartley, Carr Hartley's son. It is unclear if there gorilla or diehli it is most likely that they were the former sub species rather than the latter.

    **It is unclear if the zoo was able to acquire the Okapi. The only information I could find was regarding the zoos desire to acquire Okapi from Copenhagen. There is no information regarding the species being at the zoo.

    ***Like the Okapi it is unclear if the zoo was able to acquire Javan rhinos. The only information I could find was regarding the zoos desire to acquire the species. There is no information regarding the species being at the zoo. It is highly unlikely they they were able to acquire and display the species.

    ****I was unable to find any information regarding the species Black-backed white stork, the text I was using as a source goes on to say the following; "Black-backed white stork from China and Japan (of which perhaps there are only half a dozen in captivity)". It is most likely that the text is referring to Oriental stork (Ciconia boyciana).

    *****A trio of Electric eels were acquired for the zoo by Dr. Christopher Coates of the New York aquarium.

    ******A pair of Chinese giant salamanders were obtained from China during the peak of democratic relations between the 2 countries in 1982.

    3. Species that were kept after between 1985 - 2022


    De Brazza's monkey
    Lesser spot-nosed monkey
    Celebes crested macaque
    Formosan rock macaque
    Rhesus macaque
    Stump-tailed macaque
    Southern pig-tailed macaque
    Bengal slow loris
    Black-and-white ruffed lemur
    Gray mouse lemur
    Collared mangabey
    Colombian white-faced capuchin
    Hose's langur*
    Dusky leaf monkey
    Capped langur
    Patigonian mara
    Persian Onager**
    Grévy's zebra
    Brazilian tapir from Belgium
    Collared peccary
    Bush dog***
    Maned wolf****
    American black bear
    Asiatic black bear (moon bear)
    Striped hyena
    Asian small-clawed otter
    Small Indian civet
    South American coati
    Bob cat
    African bush Elephant******
    African forest elephant*******
    Rock Hyrax
    Indian flying fox


    Asian Fairy-blue bird
    Great hornbill
    Oriental pied hornbill
    Hyacinth macaw
    Scheepmaker's crowned pigeon
    Western crowned pigeon
    Nicobar pigeon
    Demoiselle crane
    Black crowned crane
    Lesser flamingo
    American flamingo
    Red-breasted goose
    Himalayan monal
    Edwards's pheasant
    Swinhoe's pheasant
    Elliot's pheasant
    Crested fireback
    Mikado pheasant
    Palawan peacock-pheasant
    Malayan peacock-pheasant
    Grey peacock-pheasant
    Green peafowl
    American kestrel
    Egyptian vulture
    Hartlaub's turaco
    Livingstone's turaco
    Fischer's turaco
    Guinea turaco
    Great horned owl
    Snowy owl
    Golden eagle
    Baikal teal
    Eurasian teal
    Keel-billed toucan
    Toco toucan
    White-throated toucan
    Channel-billed toucan
    Black-necked aracari
    Green aracari
    Orange-fronted hanging parrot
    Blue-crowned hanging parrot
    Yellow-throated hanging parrot
    Great hanging parrot
    Golden-mantled racket-tail
    Large fig parrot
    Double-eyed fig parrot
    Edwards's fig parrot
    Salvadori's fig parrot
    Finsch's pygmy parrot
    Blue-naped parrot
    Great-billed parrot
    Rainbow lorries
    Hadada ibis
    Pin-tailed whydah
    African penguin
    Gentoo penguin
    Bali myna


    Argentine black and white tegu
    King cobra
    Javan spitting cobra
    Mexican beaded lizard
    Elongated tortoise
    Hermann's tortoise
    Argentine boa
    Green tree python
    Siamese crocodile
    Spectacled caiman
    Antsingy leaf chameleon
    Brown leaf chameleon
    Domergue's leaf chameleon
    Lined flat-tail gecko
    Satanic leaf-tailed gecko

    *Hose's langur are an extremely rare species in captivity, and are native to the island of Borneo. The zoo owned had at least 4 langur, the only information I could find was of 2 exports of the langur out of the country; 2 were sent to Myanmar in 1994 and 2 were sent to Belgium in 1995. I can not find any more information about this species being kept in captivity anywhere else not even in their native range.

    **Persian Onager are also a rare species in this part of the world. The zoo was able to imported pair from the Netherlands in 1986.

    ***The Bush dogs that were on display at the zoo originated in Germany. A pair was imported in 1987. There have been no subsequent importations or any records of births.

    ****Surprisingly the national zoo imported a total of 6 Maned wolf within the span of 2 years. 5 wolves were imported from England in 1993 and an another individual was imported from Germany in 1996. According to my recollection the species was on display till the early 2010's.

    *****There have been numerous importations of cheetahs over the zoos lifetime. The latest importation of Cheetahs in 2019, when 4 cheetahs were donations by Tama zoo in Japan and were supposed to be housed at Dehiwala. However after they were sent to Ridiyagama Safari Park to quarantine they remained at the Safari Park to this date. I believe they are off display at the Safari park.

    ******6 African bush Elephants were imported in 1992, 4 from Botswana and 2 from South Africa. Before the importation of the 6 elephants in 1992 there were at least 5 African elephants already at the zoo. However these 5 elephants did not remain in the country for very long 3 of them were exported to Japan and one each to Botswana and South Africa. The elephant that was sent to Botswana was Bibi, she was sent to Abu camp where she lived until her death. The last African elephant in Sri Lanka is Joa (Joe) who was from Botswana. Joa (Joe) was moved to Ridiyagama Safari Park around 2019.

    *******In addition to having African bush elephants Dehiwala zoo also owned at least 2 African Forest Elephants. One of these elephants was Babar, who died in the early 1990's of a tusk infection after tripping one day and breaking one tusk off to the gum. A picture of Babar can be seen below. (all credits to Wayne Jackson)
    Raikou, Nix and kiang like this.
  2. Kestrel

    Kestrel Member

    14 Jul 2022
    Sri Lanka
    I was able to obtain "A Zoological Guide to the Zoological Gardens of Ceylon" by Major Aubrey N. Weinmen the first director of the National zoo. The book was written during the transition period when Major Weinmen was handing over the zoo to Deshabandu Lyn de Alwis. The book contains a large amount of information regarding the species held at the zoo;


    Pileated Gibbon
    Barbary Macaque*
    Crab-eating Macaque
    Bonnet Macaque
    Lion-tailed Macaque
    Moor Macaque
    Northern Plains grey Langur
    Green monkey
    Vervet Monkey
    Mona monkey
    Hamlyn's monkey
    Diana monkey
    White-throated guenon
    Sooty Mangabey
    Black crested Mangabey
    Chacma baboon
    Guinea baboon
    Olive baboon
    Yellow baboon
    Red-faced spider monkey
    Night monkey
    Pygmy marmoset
    Common Marmoset
    Syrian Hyrax
    Black giant squirrel
    Common wallaroo
    Red kangaroo
    Domesticated Yak
    Barbary Sheep
    Himalayan tahr
    Watussi cattle
    Lesser Kudu
    Black wildebeest
    Beisa Oryx
    Dromedary camel
    Fallow Deer
    Hog deer
    Common Duiker
    Grant's zebra
    Gravy's zebra
    Flat-headed cat
    Syrian brown bear
    Polar Bear**
    African wild dog
    European pine marten
    European Badger

    *A pair of Barbary Macaques named Mick and Mary were gifted to the zoo by the government of Gibraltar and were transported to Colombo on the HMS Vengeance.
    **The zoo held a pair for several years, but once they began getting skin irritations due to the water in their enclosure they were transferred to the Melbourne zoo.


    Stone Plover
    Indian spot-billed duck
    Cinnamon teal
    European pintail
    European wigeon
    Tufted duck
    Rosy-billed pochard
    Ruddy shelduck
    Egyptian geese
    Woolly necked stork
    Lesser Adjutant
    Greater Adjutant
    Grey Heron
    Green Peafowl
    Grey Junglefowl
    Red Junglefowl
    Vulturine Guineafowl
    Green-billed Curassaw (no clue what this is possibly a blue billed?)
    Saffron finch
    Blue Headed pitta
    White breasted Kingfisher
    King Vulture
    Andean Condor
    Green-billed toucan
    Stanley bustard


    Nile Crocodile
    American Alligator
    Chinese Alligator
    Three-toed box turtle
    Broad snouted Caiman
  3. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

    15 Oct 2010
    Dorset, UK
    I can’t see any mention of Sri Lankan Junglefowl?
  4. Kestrel

    Kestrel Member

    14 Jul 2022
    Sri Lanka
    Last edited: 6 Aug 2022