'Asokamala' essentially a captive animal - Wildlife Director
"Asokamala" was born and bred in captivity and therefore could not be
released to the wilderness, Wildlife Director General Ananda Weerasuriya
stated in his objections to a Fundamental Rights Application before the
The Director General added that the elephant was born in the Elephant
Orphanage in Pinnawala and rared in captivity.
The rights application was filed by petitioner Vijitha Fernando of
Mt. Lavinia, the treasurer of the organisation, Society for the
Protection of Animal Rights against the gifting of the female elephant
to Yerevan Zoo in Armenia.The DG stated that the zoo in Armenia had
informed that facilities had been upgraded at a cost of US$ 600,000 to
accommodate the two elephants including the male elephant which had been
The DG stated that it was not a "gift" as claimed by the petitioner
but was an exchange between the Dehiwala Zoo and Yerevan Zoo, that was
approved by the Cabinet as a token of goodwill to promote bilateral
relations between the two countries.
The petitioner, the treasurer of the organisation, Society for the
Protection of Animal Rights complained that elephants were culturally
revered and protected by Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance.
The petitioner stated that Armenia have longer cold weather period
where the temperature would fall below zero. The under-funded zoo lacked
power needed to heat and food, during these longer wintry weather. The
petitioner cited the Director Wild Life Conservation, the Environment
Minister, the Secretary to the Ministry and several others as
Deputy Solicitor General S. Rajaratnam appeared for the respondents.
The hearing was fixed for June 12.