Zoo Animals Not Immune to Sri Lanka’s Economic Rout as Food Prices Surge

Environmental News from Sri Lanka: 

  • Skyrocketing food prices that have plunged Sri Lankans into hardship look set to affect the 4,500 animals at the country’s main zoo.
  • Dehiwala Zoo in Colombo has been hit by both runaway inflation and a plunge in visitor revenue, leaving it scrambling for options to keep its animals fed.
  • One measure under consideration is to release some of its deer, while a more immediate plan is to replace increasingly expensive imported fruit with local produce and to grow more food on site.
  • With its charismatic species — elephants and big cats — accounting for the lion’s share of the food cost, the zoo also plans a foster parent program where members of the public can “adopt” these animals by contributing to their upkeep.

Sri Lanka’s main zoo is bracing for a food crunch for its 4,500 animals amid runaway inflation that has pushed food prices up by nearly 60% and brought misery to Sri Lankans hit by the worst economic crisis in their country’s history.

Images have circulated widely on social media showing severely emaciated lions in cages. But the Department of National Zoological Gardens, which manages Dehiwala Zoo in Colombo, has denied that the picture came from there. Department head Thilak Premakantha said that while the zoo does have enough food for the animals, for now, it’s considering measures such as releasing or giving away some of the animals to cope.

“It is a fact that our revenue has significantly decreased due to the reduced number of visitors, especially the foreign tourists, and the slashing of government funds, so we are readying to manage an upcoming crisis,” Premakantha told Mongabay.

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Source: Mongabay

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