The Tragic Story of Bandula - Oldest living Sri Lankan elephant in captivity dead at 73

September 23, 2022

Bandula, the oldest Sri Lankan elephant in captivity has died at 73. He is believed to have been born in 1939 and caught from the wild in 1949 to be brought to the Dehiwala zoo where he was held for decades.

He has been in the small space of his enclosure chained in concrete for 24 hours a day. He was made to give rides and do tricks at different times during these 73 years.

In 2018-2019 after strengthening his enclosure fences his chains were removed from time to time yet even when he was physically off chains he remained standing in the same spot for a few weeks as he didn't know anything else other than standing in one place.

Even after 2018, he was still chained most days of the year during his abnormally long musth period, probably a symptom caused by captivity. There were many requests for him to be moved to Ridiyagama Safari Park where he could have lived a better life but the Dehiwala Zoo staff didn't want him to be moved as he was iconic to Dehiwala Zoo.

In 2018 a petition requesting the release of Bandula collected 6,700 signatures while a request was also made by Indian politician Maneka Gandhi for his release but it was to no avail. He breathed his last at the Dehiwala Zoo this week after over six decades of captivity.


Excerpts from : RARE Sri Lanka