The Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo, popularly known as the Byculla zoo or Rani Baug is all set to go ahead with its much-awaited expansion plan. The expansion means the Zoo administration will make more enclosures to house more animals from across the world.
As per Byculla Zoo's Phase III of the expansion plan, the area of the zoo, currently 53 acre, will be expanded by another 10 acre at a cost of Rs 200 crore. This area is supposed to house the new animals. Under Phase II, the zoo will construct 17 animal enclosures in the existing 53-acre area.
The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) gave its nod to the expansion of the Byculla zoo in February 2019. Meanwhile, the BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal too had earlier this year announced a phase-wise expansion of the zoo, however a pandemic ruined the plan.
On Friday last week, the civic body finally floated a tender worth Rs 95 crore for the construction of three animal enclosures in the extended area. The tender includes work such as -- the construction of a space for exhibiting African savannah, an aviary for exotic birds and Emu, enclosure for hippopotamus, landscaping, installation of CCTV cameras, public amenities and other beautification work The deadline of the bid is three months. After appointing an agency/firm for the project, work is expected to be completed in around two years, informed Dr Sanjay Tripathi, Director of Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo.
The zoo currently has around 335 animals, birds and reptiles. It is home to monkeys, crocodiles, elephants, deer, hippopotamus, penguins and the countries’ biggest walk-through aviary that houses 200 plus birds of 100 different species of rare, exotic and common birds.
As part of Phase III of the expansion plan, BMC plans to get giraffe, zebra, white lion, black jaguar, chimpanzee, oryx (A large antelope living in arid region), cassowary (a very large flightless bird related to Emu), ostrich, okapi (A large browsing mammal of the giraffe family), ringtail lemur and cheetah from foreign countries. The enclosures and exhibit areas for these animals will be constructed in the expanded 10-acre plot.
"Already, 10 enclosures and exhibit areas have been constructed, including a specialised underwater viewing facility for visitors to get a close look at the tiger pair. Enclosures for leopards, sloth bears, hyenas, jackals, sambars, spotted deers, swamp deers, and Madras Pond Turtle have also been constructed. Additional enclosures for otters, Indian wolf, barking deer, Nilgai and four-horned antelopes are currently under construction," said an official.