Dehiwala Zoo, Colombo: How To Reach, Best Time & Tips

About Dehiwala Zoo

Established in the year 1936, Dehiwala Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in Asia. It is also believed that the open zoo concept was introduced by this particular zoo which was further taken ahead by various others. Basically known as the Dehiwala Zoo, the real name of the zoo is the National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka.

The place is a flourishing landscape that is housing over 2,500 splendid animals, birds, butterflies, reptiles, amphibians and much more. The distinct species does not limit to the ones found in Sri Lanka but there are animals from various other countries too. Not only the fauna, but the tropical flora of the zoo is also renowned for its diversity among its visitors.

The visitors can experience the variety of the species kept in the zoo along with close interaction with the various harmless birds and mammals. They also get to witness the lifecycle of various animals and insects along with the breeding and symbolic patterns of butterflies and fish. Also, the two of the most popular activities of the zoo, elephant dance & show and the other being the night safari is a must-to-do.

The soothing green flora and dense wood patches in the zoo make it even more appealing to the tourists. Also, one can unwind themselves in the butterfly garden where they could witness the colorful myriad of butterflies fluttering over their heads. You must take help from the zoo map in order to not miss any part of the sprawling zoo.

How to Reach Dehiwala Zoo

Dehiwala Zoo is 40 KM away from the Colombo Airport which would take around one hour and fifteen minutes to cover.

By Taxi:
You could hire a taxi just from the outside of the airport which can drive you till the zoo in the time span of forty minutes. This entire journey could cost you anything between INR 1,700 and INR 5,500. Although costly, taxi is the most convenient way to reach the zoo from the airport.

By Bus:
Bus will take an hour and fifty minutes to drop you to the zoo from the airport. However, you will find several buses plying on the A2 route to the Dehiwala Zoo which could be the cheaper way to travel.

By Air:
You could take a 15 minutes flight from Colombo Airport to Diyawanna Oya which would cost you between INR 7,000 to INR 16,000. From there, you would have to travel the rest of 10.5 KM by taxi which would take around 15 minutes and INR 600- 800.

Best Time to Visit Dehiwala Zoo

The best time to visit the Dehiwala Zoo is in winter or the dry season when there is less to no rainfall in the country. The winter months from October to February have soothingly cold temperatures and no humidity in the air. This would fit perfectly for you to wander around the zoo and not feel uneasy unlike summer months with hot temperatures and high humidity levels.

However, in the daytime, one should visit as early as the zoo opens as it is the least crowded time of the day and plus you will get to roam around comfortably without having to worry about the closing time.

Lastly, although the closing time of the zoo is 06:00 PM, the entry for the visitors closes by 05:30 PM sharp. So do not visit if you are not reaching the zoo on time. Moreover, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the zoo in half an hour, so plan early.

What Not to Miss at Dehiwala Zoo

Dehiwala Zoo is full of surprises and there are many interesting things to do at the zoo which will enhance your experience a hundred times:

1. Walk in the walk-in Aviaries
Unlike other zoos and national parks, birds are kept in huge cages which can even accommodate a number of human beings. Not just saying, people can actually walk into the cages to have a close interaction with the free-flying birds. There are a number of parrots, flightless birdies, colorful marine birds and many more of them which includes Emu, Ostrich and more.

There are mainly two of the walk-in aviaries which are duplicates of the natural habitat of the birds. Not only that, each species has its own piece of actual-world where they can feel at home. These aviaries also include a swan pond and an artificial waterfall where you could spot some splendid avian species flying around the streams of running water.

Also, there is a separate pond where the area is covered with the nesting grounds of the pelicans, night herons, egrets, and cormorants. Besides these, you could also witness macaws, lovebirds, pheasants, painted storks, kites, owls, eagles and many more birds flying around the pond.

2. Visit the Aquarium
The entire section of the aquarium is divided into three major parts, namely, fresh water tanks, marine tank, and brackish water tank. All these tanks stay by their names and keep the exact species of the related aquatic life. Further, these tanks are subdivided into 22 more tanks which are colorfully decorated with healthy swimming fish. 

Not only could one entertain themselves with the distinct species of the aquatic animals, but they could also get a close observation of each of their elements. In fact, one could also observe closely the breeding patterns and symbolic behavior of the various breeds of the fish. All this makes it fun as well as educational journey for each and everyone, especially children.

3. Witness the Butterfly Garden
A lush landscaped garden with a crystal clear stream running through the center of it sounds so perfect. And then you witness thousands of butterflies fluttering in it transforms it into a world which is straight out of a fairytale. The butterfly garden of Dehiwala Zoo looks exactly the same with a bounty of colorful and juicy flowers which are for the feeding purpose for the butterflies.

One can enter this world of ‘Disneyland’ and witness the various colorful and delicate butterflies along with their lifecycle too. There is a section of the garden dedicated especially to the lifecycle of the butterflies and it is enjoyed by the children the most.

One could also witness the feeding session where the butterflies are fed on natural flower nectar. However, they are provided with bee honey and fruit juices so they are never short of food.

4. Enjoy the Elephant Show
The most popular activity to do at the Dehiwala Zoo in the evening is to watch the Elephant Show. This includes one of the heaviest animals on the earth presenting a group dance in front of you along with a show consisting of various stunts by them. This is the most popular activity of the zoo among the kids of various ages.

Also, it includes the usage of both, the Asian and the African elephants which helps the kids to understand the difference between both of them. So, it is entertaining as well as educational for the kids and the adults alike. You can witness this in the evening at 04:30 PM daily without any special ticket.

5. Go to the Reptilium Section
Exhibiting around 32 endemic and tropical species of the reptiles, this section is for all the reptile lovers. And if you aren’t a reptile lover then you must visit the place and you will become one at the end of this tour. You will witness various unique reptiles like Galapagos Giant Tortoise, crocodiles, snakes, lizards and much more at the section.

The most popular section of the zoo is the snake section which consists of species like Hump Nosed Viper, Sri Lankan Cobra, Pythons and much more. The main attraction of this section is the Dwarf crocodile which is cherished by tourists a lot. Besides these, you can also witness turtles, iguanas, and terrapins living lovingly in their section together.

6. Birthday Party
A very different activity which you could do at the zoo is organizing your kid’s birthday party. Yes, the zoo has introduced an out-of-the-box way to throw a unique birthday party to your kid’s friends which will be at the zoo. It would be a totally different experience for everyone whose main purpose is to inculcate gratitude and appreciation towards nature.

7. Night Safari
A very popular tour organized between 07:00 PM to 10:00 PM every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the zoo is night safari. This activity lets the foreigners and tourists indulge in tours to witness the nocturnal activities of the various animals. It has become trending in the following years and one should not miss the chance to do it to get an unmatchable experience of the zoo.

Places to Visit around Dehiwala Zoo

There are numerous places around the Dehiwala Zoo which are worth a visit during your trip to the zoo. Here are some of the best picks for you to explore and get indulged in the Sri Lankan vibe:

1. Mount Lavinia Beach
Named after a Sri Lankan dancer Lovina, Mount Lavinia Beach is a long stretch of sand which is as beautiful as the dancer is said to be. People come to the beach for a great sunbath and munch on some delectable Sri Lankan Cuisines.

2. Bellanwilla Rajamaha Viharya
An intricately designed Buddhist temple, Bellanwilla Rajamaha Viharya is very popular among the tourists and the locals. The premises of the temple also house the tree of one of the thirty-two saplings distributed from the sacred Bodhi Tree in Anuradhapura 2000 years back.

3. Attidiya Bird Sanctuary
A small untarnished land in the backyard of the very developed Colombo city, Attidiya Bird Sanctuary houses over 15 species of birds, numerous birds, insects, reptiles and a tropical vegetation. All these elements make this place a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of Colombo city.

4. Sri Lanka Air Force Museum
Having more than 30 aircraft on display, Sri Lanka Air Force Museum is a delight for the patriotic and history buffs. You can not only witness them but climb into some of them to observe the insides of the planes.

Besides these, there are two more sections that house the artifacts from weapons to radios, everything which is used by the air force. Also, there are some classic cars on display and a souvenir shop where you can place an order for some neat models of various aircraft.

5. Independence Square
Accompanied by the street on one side and a lush green garden on the other, Independence Square is a great pick for your Colombo visit. Based on Magul Maduwa and Royal Celebration Hall of the Kandyan Kingdom, the monument has turned out to be a beautiful structure. You can witness the intricate carvings on the pillars and the cool sensation inside the hall even if the outsides are steamingly hot.

6. Colombo National Museum
Also renowned as Dutch Museum and the Old Town Hall, Colombo National Museum is an elegant structure of Italianate colonial style of architecture. The building houses many statues, artifacts, paintings and much more which root back to the history of Sri Lanka. One must not miss visiting this place to have a close look into the rich history of the country.

Other Essential Information About Dehiwala Zoo

120 Galvihara Road, Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka

Entry fee:
- Foreign Adult: Rs 2,500
- Foreign Child: Rs 1,250
- SAARC Adult: Rs 700
- SAARC Child: Rs 350
- Local Adult: Rs 100
- Local Child: Rs 30
- School groups higher than 25 students: Rs 20

Timings: 08:30 AM to 06:00 PM on all days of the week.

Interesting Facts about Dehiwala Zoo

Visiting Dehiwala Zoo for the first time? Here are some interesting facts about it to give you an unmatchable experience:

- Dehiwala Zoo organizes a night safari between 07:00 PM to 10:00 PM every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday which you must get indulged in.

Dehiwala Zoo lets you interact with the animals, birds, insects, and reptiles from up close.

Dehiwala Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in Asia which was established in the year 1936.

The zoo pioneered the open zoo concept among the upcoming zoos.

The zoo houses over 2,500 animals from tropical and local species.

The zoo is not only popular for its distinct fauna but tropical flora too.

The zoo also features the lifecycle and breeding patterns of the various animals to convert the tour into an educational experience.

The zoo focuses on the breeding of rare and endangered species in order to protect them from extinction.

Dehiwala Zoo Night Safari

Enough of clubs and pubs to spend a memorable night! Hit Dehiwala Zoo Night Safari which is a freshly started service by the zoo where they take their guests on a safari at night. Here, people can witness animals in their natural habitat enjoying their daily life.

They really enjoy the nocturnal activities of the distinct wildlife species and so making this safari a very demanding activity of the zoo. It is a very adventurous activity where one can bring their families and lovers to spend an enthusiastic night in the woods.

This is a weekly activity which is enjoyed by the locals and foreigners alike. So you have to definitely get your tickets booked beforehand. You could choose a slot from 07:00 PM to 10:00 PM every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The experience is worth all the money you spend which is LKR 700 for the adults and LKR 350 for a child for a single ticket.

Tips for visiting Dehiwala Zoo

Here are some of the insider tips which might come handy while you visit the Dehiwala Zoo:

- Do carry a water bottle to keep yourself hydrated all day long.

Reach the zoo as soon as it opens to avoid the rush, i.e. 08:30 AM.

Do not visit after 05:30 PM as entry to new visitors is restricted at this hour.

Make sure to enter the aviaries of the birds and other gardens to have an unmatchable experience.

Do not miss the elephant dance and show at 04:30 PM daily.

Do get engaged in the night safari organized by the zoo every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday between 07:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
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