Let us strive towards making Sri Lanka Zoo Free
Posted on May 30th, 2016

Senaka Weeraratna

Animals are born free. But almost everywhere they are in chains. Zoos symbolize this phenomenon. Zoos therefore do not deserve to be sustained. It is a legacy of the uncivilized world. It is morally indefensible. It is cruel. It is shameful. It turns Justice on its head. Its future, like human slavery of the past, lies in only one direction. The exit door.

Two sad incidents in Zoos situated in different parts of the world in the last few days have drawn world wide attention to the plight of innocent animals held captive against their will being forced to sacrifice their precious lives to save the lives of blundering irresponsible human beings.

Harambe, a gorilla in the Cincinnati zoo in USA was killed when a child stumbled into its enclosure. Two lions in the Santiago Zoo in Chile were destroyed when an instable man shouting religious slogans threw himself into the lion’s den, stripped naked and provoked the lions who then attacked him. In both instances the fault lay totally with the humans but it was innocent animals who paid the ultimate penalty with their lives for unqualified human folly.

The following YouTube clips dramatically illustrate these two incidents:

Santiago Zoo


Cincinnati Zoo


These incidents raise fundamental moral issues particularly in the conduct of our relationships with other living beings. We value freedom, kindness and compassion as parts of our civilizational traits. But all these values lose their hold on us when it comes to dealing with non – human animals. The maintenance of Zoos is one of the prime examples of our twisted morality. If animals had a say none of them will give consent to being trapped and placed behind bars in a place euphemistically called a Zoo. Yet, we humans persist with it because it gives us sadistic enjoyment to view others who are different to us species wise but nevertheless living in miserable conditions and great pain. Animals belong to the outdoors. To roam free at will. Not to be shackled and kept inside man made prisons.   Unless we take a moral stand on it with a view to liberating these animals we condemn ourselves as morally wretched. Enlightened posterity will never forgive us – this generation – for our moral cowardice.

Sri Lanka has inherited Zoos not from our ancestors but from the forebears of those who illegally occupied our country and made it into a colony of foreign countries. While any good that came our way through interaction with foreigners merit sustenance the bad that is incompatible with our traditional animal friendly cultural heritage deserve to be cast out.

Zoos fall into that country.  Caging animals in enclosures without any culpability on their part virtually for life is no longer acceptable to those who prize freedom.  Bhutan has shown the way. It has closed its Zoos for all animals except for one or two on the endangered list. The world has a lot to learn from the moral leadership that Bhutan is giving particularly in respect to protection of the natural environment and its fauna and flora. Sri Lanka must re-gain the moral leadership that we gave to the rest of Asia in the pre-colonial period. It is not for nothing that people in our neighbouring countries once upon a time called our people the ‘Aryavansa’ (Noble Race). Let us strive towards making Sri Lanka Zoo Free like Bhutan has done compassionately.

Senaka Weeraratna

See also

DVA Colombo Chapter Face Book


22 Responses to “Let us strive towards making Sri Lanka Zoo Free”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:


    Have you thought of the knowledge and thrill little children experience when they see all the animals of the world in one zoo? My visits to the Dehiwala zoo still remains etched in my brain as one of the really great experiences I had as a child.

    On the other hand, well maintained zoos protect, preserve and help propagate many animal species that would have become extinct.

    Although I am a Buddhist committed to ahimsa as an IDEAL, I would hate to have Sri Lankan children deprived of the exciting and educational oport unity to visit a zoo in Sri Lanka.

    In the same vein, I would hate to have Sri Lanka deprived of its now powerful armed forces, just because I am a Buddhist commited to to the IDEAL of ahimsa. SURVIVAL FIRST, SURVIVAL SECOND, SURVIVAL THIRD!

  2. Dham Says:

    What about donating of baby elephants to distant countries by your bro ? Is it as important as armed forces ?

  3. Ananda-USA Says:


    That is the first marginally decent thing you have asked me.

    The answer is, I would prefer to keep our baby elephants at home in Sri Lanka with their relatives if possible.

    But, sometimes donating a Sri Lankan elephant to a foreign zoo to be identified as such during its long life, helps establish long lasting bonds of friendship with other nations for Sri Lanka.

    We need all the friends we can get to help keep our human babies as well as our treasured baby elephants alive in Sri Lanka.

    Please give MR (he is my Bro … in spirit only) some credit for being able to properly evaluate these considerations when making such a gift.

    After all, he did make a SERIES OF BRILLIANT DECISIONS to our Motherland of TERRORISM and REUNIFY it after 30 years division into ETHNIC BANTUSTANS, that ALL his jealous detracto failed to make!

  4. Dham Says:

    Please leave you bro out of all discussions to make it fruitful. Your perception and my perception are completely opposite but they are still “perceptions”. Either you or me can be wrong or right or both.
    All perception made by non-Arahants are false because there is an elemen of greed hatred and elusion in it

    I am totally against this stupid chintanaya, Ananda, I have no words to describe it.

    There are ways to identify true friends. Budhdha has given those in detail, I am not going to right here.
    Generosity is one of those. However when you snatch a baby from the mother and donate to Dalada maligawa ( leave aside foreigners first) where is the generosity ? Elephant was not his property in the first place.

    Foreigners cannot be Fooled by a little elephant baby anyway. They are not FOOLS ! They will have a bad impression instead ! You have to show your “goodness” instead. Somke doesn’t arise without fire. It is not UNP’s and India’s fault everything.

    Stop this madness and think rationally. You cannot justify your brother in “everything he does”.

  5. Dham Says:

    If you ask NMY he will explain how , going to Zoo and being entertained (without any compassion to caged animals) generate AKUSALA kamma. Even giving food to birds in a certain way is not KUSALA but opposite.

  6. Dilrook Says:

    Seeing so many animals within a short period of time and seeing they are being cared for actually create a sense of affection towards them. This is the only way for almost all humans to interact with them. It instils a strong sense of the need to protect them in their natural habitats. If this opportunity is lost, people would only see animals on the TV and a rich few will be able to afford a trip to Africa, etc. to catch a glimpse of zoo animals.

    Such matters must be voluntarily decided by the people. No one can impose his/her moral conviction on others. Such Nazism never works. The same can be said about meat, milk, egg, fish, leather and fur industries. It is the free choice. Those who hold a different view are not less intelligent or sinful; they just think differently. It is absurd to offer free choice to animals but deny it to humans.

  7. Dham Says:

    “It is absurd to offer free choice to animals but deny it to humans.”– Dilrook

    Does that freedom include,
    1. Freedom to abduction
    2. Freedom to get them to do what we want
    3. Freedom to feed them with what we think they like
    4. Freedom to not to let them be free to walk
    5. Freedom to human to “own”
    6. Freedom for force breed.

    That is the one sounds ABSURD !

  8. Ananda-USA Says:


    Again you are trying to dodge the bullet you aimed at your own head.

    You were the o e who said

    (Quote)What about donating of baby elephants to other countries by YOUR BRO? (Quote).

    Now when I answer your question about the babies and the implied criticism of “your bro”, you want to change the subject! I believe the real target was “your bro” …. that is the ESTABLISHED RECOGNIZABLE PATTERN in your comments.

    What is the matter? Can’t cope with the rapier like counter thrusts in my replies? The kitchen getting too hot for you?

  9. Ananda-USA Says:


    I can BET that MR did not SNATCH a baby elephant from its mother and donate it to a foreign country.

    I would BET that that baby elephant was an ORPHAN after the death of its mother in some mishap and was being lovingly looked after by humans, perhaps in the Pinnately Elephant Orphanage. Do you really know about the baby elephant, or are you just speculating because helps to demonized MR? I can find out the truth from my contacts in Sri Lanka, if you don’t know.

    And another thing I find reprehensible in your comments is that you mix religion and politics. When your political Al arguments fail, you wrap yourself up in the Dhamma! Always shifting your ground when your positions become untenable and absurd.

    We do not live in an IDEAL world, to SURVIVE we have to go to war to defend ooutselves and our people. The Buddhist upasakaya SURVIVES in Sri Lanka to meditate only because HIS DUAL, the SINHALA WARRIOR sacrifices and dies to protect him.

    I have come to terms with that DUAL Sinhala Buddhist PERSONALITY within me. I confess that I am more the self-sacrificing Warrior than the selfish upasakaya trying to attain Nibbana for himself. So be it; we are all different, but it IRKS ME when people try to usd Buddhism to disarm the Sinhala Buddhist and prevent him from defending himself and adopting a RATIONAL MIDDLE PATH to ensure the survival of himself and his community.

    For example, there are many Western writers, paid handsomely by Tamil Separatists, who write books like “Buddhism Betrayed” designed to demonized the Sinhala Buddhist and prevent him from defending himself and his Motherland. I their view, we are good Buddhists only if we roll over and let them BALKANIZATION our country, CONVERTICAL our people to other faiths, and ENSLAVE US ECONOMICALLY to their FINANCIAL YOKE.

    I don’t buy ANY OF THAT BS! I balance my own Sinhala Virtures and my own Buddhist Dhamma along my own Middle Path!

  10. Dilrook Says:


    That freedom of humans does not include.

    2. Freedom to get them to do what we want
    3. Freedom to feed them with what we think they like
    6. Freedom for force breed.

    Most countries stop these by laws and following a compassionate approach. These restrictions on freedom should be eliminate as much as possible.

    However, the following freedoms are compromised under even the best legal protection available today.

    1. Freedom to abduction
    4. Freedom to not to let them be free to walk
    5. Freedom to human to “own”

    Humans have even domesticated and created new breeds (cats, dogs, birds, fish, etc.)

    Care should be taken to minimise restrictions on animal freedom in this regard. Maximum allowable freedom should be allowed to animals in this regard. However, beyond that, it is up to humans to exercise their freedom of beneficial use. I would personally not restrict an animal or take away its freedom unless it poses a health or safety problem. But I would not try to impose my choice on others either.

  11. Dham Says:

    You are mistaken. I keep saying it, your closed mind doesn’t allow.

    I have wrapped myself in Buddhism , always, not when this when that. It is my defence , always. (Budhdham Jeevitah paryantham Sarama Gacchami)

    If you know that even a Sothapanna is able to kill another human, you don’t have to keep Buddhism aside to fight the enemy. Fight the enemy still with a heart. ( it is deeper than you think, so don’t even try to interpret.) Fight the enemy fairly. You can even use the whole of Buddhism to fight the enemy. there are so much of it , unknown to you.

  12. Dham Says:

    You are very close.

  13. Ananda-USA Says:


    I am not mistaken about you because I have seen how you operate; when you can’t argue politics you resort to Buddhism.

    Most of us Buddhists know the Buddhist IDEAL, but we live in a REAL world that is far from that IDEAL, nevertheless we live as close as we can to that IDEAL.

    You should try to emulate Dilrook, who debates politics rationally within the parameters of politics in a sensible way, not by seeking refuge in Buddhism to put others who are reluctant to criticize our own religion on the defensive … just to win an argument.

    Unfortunately for you, I have confronted even crooked monks who try to hide behind Buddhism when they caught red-handed stealing community assets.

    So, let me advise you again: keep religion and politics SEPARATE, because as it is well known, religion is the last refuge of the accomplished crook!

  14. Dham Says:

    I challenge you to show me one instant
    1. When I couldn’t argue anymore and stuck
    2. When I resorted to Buddhism because I failed in argument.

  15. Ananda-USA Says:


    Sure I would be happy to respond to 1 and 2 above, as soon as you show me the proof that MR snatched the baby elephant from its mother. One good turn deserves another … doesn’t it?

  16. Dham Says:

    Challenge is between you and me. Not MR, even though you are his brother.

    Haven’t you forgotten the report baby elephants were taken away when the mother elephants were crying not long after the war and took them to donate to Malwathu or Asgiri (and both worked against him at the elections in 2015 ) ? He later went there to hand over to Malvath Asgiri quietly.

  17. Dham Says:

    I never forget this incident because this was the first time he disappointed me while I was talking so highly about him defending his every move.

  18. Ananda-USA Says:


    You are persisting in attacking MR, and I will treat you accordingly.

    You are UNABLE to provide the PROOF; until you do so you will get NOTHING from me.

  19. Dham Says:

    Don’t hang on to this trivial incident ( when compare with saving the country), it is just the first disappointment proving his “chintanaya”. What poof you want ? Don’t you remember he cunningly used Gamini Lokuge ( a real ex-UNP thug I know well) do this dirty work and happily went there to “pooja karanna” two elephants ? After this many times he went abroad he did elephant donations. Where were you living ? In heaven created by him ?
    There is no point attacking anyone. This is no big deal. Big deal is whether he can be trusted, after destroying all the advantage we gained. This is not an attack this is 100% TRUTH. He was so weak, unable to hang on to the victory gained by so much sacrifices by others. He betrayed all.

  20. Ananda-USA Says:


    I trust Mahinda Rajapaksa more than any other politician Sri Lanka. He has EARNED that TRUST, he saved the lives of our families and our country.

    Therefore, you are WASTING your time trying to convince me otherwise.

    If you want me to spare you, you should STOP attacking MR.

    The BOTTOM LINE IS, you have NO PROOF of the ALLEGATION you made about the baby elephant donation.

    You are simply trying circumvent providing the proof. IT SIMPLY WON’T WORK.

    A better approach would be for you is to SIMPLY SAY YOU DON’T KNOW and YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE SAID IT, and APOLOGIZE for the misleading allegation.

    Such HONESTY would EARN YOU POINTS with me.

  21. Dham Says:

    Please, you be honest. I don’t need any point from ANY individual in the world. I am 100% honest and did not simply make allegations. For what ? I don’t get any benefit.
    Are you saying he did not ask Gamini Lokuge to snatch the babies and send to maligawas so that he can go and make the Pooja ? Did you read what I gave you above ?
    I am not asking you to change. You keep your perception on him and I keep mine. I am just the opposite of you.

  22. Dham Says:

    Politician evaluation and changing others minds is not my job. I will report when I see untruth and when I see something interesting. I always participate in discussions involve Buddhism. That is all.

    I don’t know what is wrong with you, attacking commentators and thinking you can change the world and let your brother gain votes. Absolutely foolish of you. Sorry.

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