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'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 Supreme Court.

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 already there.

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 respondents.

Deputy Solicitor General S. Rajaratnam appeared for the respondents.

The hearing was fixed for June 12.

 

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