Following the footsteps of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan, popularly known as 'Rani Bagh' or 'Byculla zoo', will be the next to go virtual amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The administration has already been posting informative videos about flora and fauna in the zoo premises along with informative talks. It will soon start a virtual tour on its social media page The Mumbai Zoo.
Last year, the zoo administration had conducted a live tour of the enclosures of the royal Bengal tigers Shakti and Karishma that had gone viral on the internet. However, the tour video was posted on MyBMC, the official Facebook and Twitter page of the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation. However, on February 16, 2021, Byculla Zoo launched its own Twitter and Facebook page The Mumbai Zoo.
Dr Sanjay Tripathi, director of Byculla zoo, said, "Yes, we are planning to take the zoo on digital platforms. Some of the activities have already begun. After the second wave of COVID-19 hit the city, we had to shut down again on April 4. All our educational activities and awareness programs have been shut too. So, we are planning to take all these activities online, so that people do not miss out on it. We are also planning to post videos and virtual tours on our official social media pages, including YouTube.
Amidst the pandemic, zoo authorities have been taking measures to ensure proper care and safety of the animals as well as the staff involved. Meanwhile, Abhishek Satam, Zoo biologist, said that Byculla zoo, with 160 years old history, is not just about caged animals; there are many more interesting things there. "There are many interesting birds and insects in the zoo apart from caged animals. We have been posting pictures, videos and information about them. Different tree species found on six continents are present in the Byculla zoo premises. The digital platform and social media play a major role in taking all this knowledge from the zoo premises to different parts of the world. There are many structures of historical importance on the zoo campus. We have been conducting online talks and celebrating important days. Soon, we will start more activities involving animal enclosures and virtual tours of the zoo," Satam said.
After it remained shut for 11 months in the first wave, Byculla zoo had finally reopened on February 15, 2021. Following the second wave and the lockdown announced by the state government, the administration was forced to shut the zoo once again on April 4. "As per the guidelines given by the central government and the central zoo authority, we are looking after all the requirements, such as sanitation and disinfection of the exhibits, other areas and even the staff are not leaving the zoo premises," Tripathi said.