A total of 1,419 visitors visited the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan popularly known as Byculla zoo or Rani Baug on Monday which opened its gates to the general public after remaining shut for nearly 11 months due to COVID-19 pandemic. On the first day itself, the Zoo administration collected a revenue of Rs 69,600.
According to Dr Sanjay Tripathi - director of Byculla Zoo, the two biggest attractions for visitors on Monday were the two Royal Bengal tigers -- Shakti and Karishma and the Humboldt penguins.
In February 2020, the zoo had received the two tigers from Aurangabad zoo. The tigers live inside the 3,500 square-metre specially designed enclosure with landscape and terrain that replicates the conditions in the Ranthambore National Park of Rajasthan. However, by March 2020 the zoo was shut owing to COVID-19 lockdown with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) announcing the shutdown on March 15, 2020.
The zoo has lost a significant amount of revenue during the lockdown period most of which was the peak season for the zoo.
Tripathi said, "We handled a total of 1,419 people in Byculla zoo and earned a total revenue of Rs. 69,600. This excludes senior citizens whose entry is free. We are strictly following the covid safety protocol across the campus."
The zoo authorities expect the number of visitors to go up by next few weeks. He added, "We noticed that visitors were getting excited seeing the tigers. Hence we have deployed two security guards near the tiger enclosure to control the crowd and ensure physical distancing."
Before covid19 pandemic hit the city, the Zoo witnessed a footfall of around 6,000 to 8,000 visitors daily on weekdays, and over 10,000 on weekends, this is excluding morning and evening walkers. However, currently owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, walkers are not allowed inside the zoo, but are allowed to walk in the garden area outside the zoo. Current timings of the zoo are 9 am to 6 pm.
On Monday, the Mumbai civic body announced the starting of its social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and channel on Youtube that will showcase various educational programmes and important events of the zoo under the banner 'The Mumbai Zoo'. Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar will officially inaugurate the social media pages of the Byculla zoo on Tuesday.
"The plan is to upload daily activities of animals on our dedicated social media pages / channels and also upload educational materials on our social media pages about the zoo and wildlife inside the zoo," Tripathi added.