The Diwali vacation has pulled crowds to the Byculla's Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan, popularly known as the Byculla zoo, with 26,000 visitors over the weekend. This resulted in the BMC earning around Rs10 lakh as revenue. The zoo has undergone a major revamp over the past few years, with civic authorities bringing in many new exotic animals that have turned into major attractions.
The number of visitors declines between June and September on account of the monsoons. However, with the rains subsiding and schools being shut for the Diwali vacation, visitors, mostly children, have increased.
The average weekday footfall is around 4,000-5,000, which swells to 10,000-12,000 on weekends. During Ganeshotsav the zoo recorded 77,167 visitors from August 31 to September 11. The zoo recorded the highest number of visitors (up to 30,000) in May. Officials say the number of visitors to the zoo has doubled since the pandemic subsided. Zoo director Dr Sanjay Tripathy said, “Usually the visitors are more on weekends. But the number increases further during vacations. Almost 18,000 visitors were recorded on Sunday.”
The biggest attractions at the zoo are penguin chicks Oscar and Oreo. Children also love to watch Bengal tiger cub Veera, Shiva the bear and the pair of leopards. The zoo generates income from entry fees that have been set at Rs25 for children, Rs50 for adults and Rs100 for a family of four. On Fridays, entry for children below 12 years is free.