Audit Report Confirms High Percentage Of Deaths In Zoos


A total of 328 animals living in the Zoos run by the National Zoological Gardens Department have died within the 2016 and 2017 two-year period, a performance audit report by the Auditor General’s Department has revealed. Of them, 77 animals have died due to pneumonia, tension and conflict between animals and as a result of being eaten by predators.

The objective of the audit was to evaluate whether the Zoological Development and the Welfare Fund was utilized for the welfare of animals and staff. The 32-page report highlighted a series of startling observations, in respect of animals’ health, lack of facilities and food to them, solid waste and waste water disposal issues and lack of attention to the well-being of elephants.

One of the key observations of the audit includes the non-supply of food to the animals on time. “Many animals do not get the full diet, because in most cases animals coming from outside eat food given to animals in the Zoo. The quantity of food ordered for animals, living in the elephant zone and the world animal zone of the Hambantota Ridiyagama safari park is not supplied by the suppliers. There is no methodology to fill the dearth of food. The weight of elephants was not measured, even though the quantity of food fed to elephants should have been changed according to their weight,” the report said.

“Elephants in the Dehiwala Zoo are generally retained in one place. The audit examinations carried out in 2016 and 2017 found out that the elephant named ‘Bandula’, and she elephants named ‘Khema’, ‘Devi’ and ‘Namali’ were suffering from foot injuries. A foot care programme on elephants was not in existence in the Dehiwala Zoo,” the report revealed.

The audit examination had come across instances where medical instructions were not followed when transferring animals from one place to another, risking animals’ health and safety. The report further observed the lack of quarantine facilities to animals.

The report also noted that there was insufficient space to certain animals in the Dehiwala Zoological Garden and that no adequate shade management was in existence for some animals. “The rotten parts of cages and parts destroyed by animals were not repaired soon. As a result, animals had gone missing in three occasions, eaten by predators in five occasions, injured in 6 occasions during the period under audit. The Department was unable to reveal what happened to the untraceable animals,” the report explained.

Another key observation in the report includes the improper waste disposal at Dehiwala and Pinnawala Zoological Gardens and Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. “Many cages in Dehiwala Zoological Gardens were battered and there was no sufficient protection as well,” it added.

“In terms of conditions of the Environment Safety License issued for the operation of Dehiwala Zoological Gardens by the Central Environmental Authority several conditions need to be fulfilled, but action had not been taken accordingly. It was observed in audit that waste water disposed from the Zoo is discharged to a quarry. Discharging waste water in this manner may pollute nearby water sources and negatively affect the health of the people living in surrounding area. The Zoological Gardens had also not followed a proper Solid Waste disposal method,” the report said.

The report added that the waste water from the Pinnawala Elephants Orphanage was being discharged to Ma-oya, located behind the orphanage, violating the terms of the Environmental Safety Licence. The report also highlighted that less than three per cent of the total income earned by the Zoological Gardens was spent for the staff welfare.

“As the National Zoological Gardens Department earns its entire income from demonstration of animals, it is concluded that further attention needs to be paid on the welfare of animals and staff,” the report added.

Source: Daily News