By Disna Mudalige
The newly opened mini zoo in Ape Gama premises in Battaramulla will be maintained as a tourist attraction while rectifying the identified shortcomings, Botanical Gardens and Public Recreation Ministry Secretary Dr. Willie Gamage said.
Commenting on the criticisms from environmentalists about the lack of space and comfort for the animals, Dr. Gamage said they took measures to withdraw the two baby elephants from the mini zoo after environmentalists pointed out the unfit conditions to accommodate these animals at the premises.
He said all other animals in this premises are existing under proper conditions, adding that several other species replaced the withdrawn elephants.
Gamage said the animals have been released to natural environs and looked after properly.
He said the ministry is ready to rectify any of the shortcomings in the zoo, and continue it as a recreation centre for local and foreign tourists. He said a large crowd visited Ape Gama and mini zoo since its opening.
Children are admitted free while an adult is charged Rs. 100. The mini zoo comprises of extent of 3.5 acres. He said attention has also been paid to open a reception hall with seating facilities for about 400-500 in the Ape Gama premises, adding that once completed it will be available for various occasions such as weddings.
Meanwhile, the newly opened Mirijjawila Botanical Gardens in Hambantota has been declared a national botanical garden through a gazette notification.
It is Sri Lanka's first ever botanical garden in the dry zone. The botanical garden has an extent of 300 acres. The ministry spokesman said this garden is now open for the public.