As I mentioned in the previous blog post – capital of Sri Lanka is a city with many faces. If you drive just couple kilometers outside the center, you’ll easily get an impression that you have moved not just to other neighborhood but most likely to another country. Even though I was expecting to see tons of garbage on the streets and in the river… it was really hard to acknowledge and accept this fact.
To be honest I wasn’t really thrilled about Colombo. And I quickly understood why so many travelers are advising not to waist too much time in the capital and suggesting to stay here only a day or two. And that is what I’ll do next time I’m in Sri Lanka. But for now, I would like to show you some places that we managed to visit during our stay.
Independence Memorial Hall…
It’s a national monument that was built for commemoration of the independence of Sri Lanka from the British rule.
At the head of the monument is a statue of the first prime minister of independent Ceylon – Rt. Hon. Don Stephen Senanayake – Father of the Nation:
The sign says: “This Hall was erected by the government of Ceylon to commemorate the achievement of the Independence of Ceylon on 4th February 1948”.
Our guide told us that it’s one of the popular places for wedding photos. And just as he said it I saw first couple walking towards the Hall with a photographer. Later I’ve learned that wedding in Sri Lanka is a very important ritual, even more important than in Russia. Which was a surprise for me to be honest. During our twelve days holiday I saw more wedding couples than I have ever seen in my entire life! So yes, wedding is a big thing here.
Dehiwala National zoological garden was only couple minutes away by tuk-tuk from our guest house, so one day we decided to check it out.
It was no surprise to see the ticket price difference. 100 LKR (Sri Lankan rupee) for local adult and (drum roll!) – 2500 LKR (!) for foreigner. So, no need to wonder why zoo is so popular attraction amongst locals.
Territory of the zoological garden is over 11 ha. It houses a variety of animals, such as leopards, tigers, elephants, sloth bears, monkeys and many others.
There is also a very nice butterfly house that has 30 different species. It’s decorated with trees, creepers and small streams.
Beautiful, isn’t it?
If I would stop my story right here, it would give you the impression that everything is nice and well in this zoo… But my blog is about anything but lies. That is why I will tell you and show you the real picture. And reality is not as pretty as photographs above. Dehiwala zoo looks more like an animal prison than a zoological garden.
One of the most shocking things what I have witnessed was the white sea turtle that was swimming in a fish aquarium. And by “swimming” I mean moving in circles, since there is nothing else what that poor creature could do in a glass box size approximately 1.5 on 1.5 meter. It might be a nice home for small fishes… but grown up sea turtle, really?!
Another – was to see the birds walk through aviary. Looking at owls and eagles locked in the super small cages was just heartbreaking.
Standing there and not being able to do anything about it, not being able to help them made me feel angry and sorrowful. And feeling powerless made me want to cry.
But most disturbing was to see the elephants…
As you can see from the photos they are chained up and cannot move freely. They just stand there in the same spot for hours and sway back and forth all day long (you can find the video in YouTube). And even though I’m not a veterinarian… I’m sure that this kind of behavior is not normal.
To be continued…
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