SRI LANKA PROMOTION AT WASHINGTON NATIONAL
ZOO TO COINCIDE WITH KANDULA’S FIFTH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS
The Sri Lanka Promotion, on the occasion of the fifth birthday
celebration of Sri Lanka baby elephant Kandula at the Washington
National Zoo on Sunday November 19 2006, was multi-faceted.
Kandula being the icon that he is in Washington,
the event focused on fun activities for him and for the kids among
the visitors to the Zoo on his birthday. After Kandula’s
daily bath at 10 a.m., Director, Smithsonian’s National
Zoo, Mr. John Berry and Under Secretary for Science at the Smithsonian,
Dr. Dave Evans, spoke of the Smithsonian’s relationship
with Sri Lanka and conservation efforts of elephants in the wild.
Ambassador Bernard Goonetilleke extended warm greetings from President
Mahinda Rajapaksa and added that the President “extends
his deep appreciation to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo
and Friends of the National Zoo for partnering with us on this
event and for collaborating with us on elephant conservation efforts.”
The Ambassador also referred to the significance of elephants
in Sri Lanka’s culture. “In ancient times, our kings
gifted elephants to other royal courts in Asia and beyond, and
that tradition continues. You may be aware that Kandula’s
mother, Shanthi, was a gift from the children of Sri Lanka to
the National Zoo in 1976. Therefore, the elephant contributes
significantly to fostering better understanding of our culture
and people.” Director John Berry gifted a beautifully framed
“Shanti footprint” to Ambassador.
As the visitors to the zoo gathered at the elephant
outdoor yard, Director John Berry welcomed the public and explained
the significance of Sri Lanka’s traditional oil lamp. The
lamp was lighted by Ambassador Goonetilleke, Director John Berry,
Diector General of Sri Lanka Wild Life Department, Dr. Dayananda
Kariyawasam, Chair and Research Scientist of the Sri Lanka Centre
for Conservation and Research, Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando, Associate
Director of Science, Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Dr. Steven
Monfort, Sri Lanka’s Desk Officer at the State Department,
Ms Molly Gower, Dr. John Sedlins Branch Chief, Fulbright Program
with the Near East and South and Central Asia of the Bureau of
Educational and Cultural Affairs Department of State.
During his welcome of the visitors to the event,
Ambassador Goonetilleke said, “Kandula’s birthday
celebration will always be a wonderful way of building bridges
of friendship and understanding between the peoples of our two
countries.” The Ambassador presented to Director John Berry,
a beautiful, decorative batik blanket for Kandula from the people
of Sri Lanka, presently displayed at the Zoo’s Elephant
House for public viewing.
Kandula celebrated his birthday in style with
gift boxes in the elephant yard with elephant treats and other
toys. Later in the day, Kandula was given a birthday "cake"
made of oats, apples and wheat.
The event was further enhanced by a scintillating
elephant dance from the National Women’s Dance Troupe of
Sri Lanka from New York and an exotic snake dance from the Sri
Lanka Youth Dance group of the Greater Washington area. The pulsating
rhythm and the throbbing drum beat attracted the crowds and fascinated
The Sri Lanka Promotion included four stalls,
promoting tourism, handicrafts, Sri Lankan food and Ceylon tea.
Given the chilly weather, hot tea at the tea promotion was a
Kandula’s birthday celebrations began
at the Washington National Zoo on November 16, 2006, with a
lecture on "The Conservation of Asian Elephants in Sri
Lanka and Beyond." It was the first event of the cultural
and educational program organized by the Sri Lanka Embassy under
the “Enrichment of Arts and Culture” section of
the ‘Mahinda Chintana’, in collaboration with the
Smithsonian National Zoological Park and Friends of the National
Zoo (FONZ) in Washington DC. The speakers sponsored by the Smithsonian
Institution were Director General of Sri Lanka’s Department
of Wildlife Conservation Dr. Dayananda Kariyawasam and Chair
and Research Scientist of the Sri Lanka Centre for Conservation
and Research Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando.
This event which has been termed a “resounding
success” enabled the Embassy to showcase Sri Lanka’s
culture alluringly to the American public and to promote the
country as an attractive destination.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
20 November 2006