Byculla Zoo likely to reopen from Feb 15

The bird aviary within the zoo is expected to remain shut.

After over 11 months, Mumbai’s Veermata Jijabai Bhosale (VJB) Udyan and Zoo, popularly known as the Byculla Zoo, is likely to be thrown open to the public from Monday, February 15. Byculla Zoo authorities have submitted a proposal in this regard to municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal for his approval.

After its penguin enclosure was opened to the public, Byculla Zoo had become one of the most popular tourist spots in the city. Following the Covid-induced lockdown, however, the zoo was closed on March 15 last year.

“We plan on reopening the zoo, taking into consideration all Covid-19 precautionary measures. We have marked viewing places where social distancing has to be maintained; sanitisers will be placed at various spots within the premises and specific dustbins will be made available for the disposal of masks and sanitisers, as required by the visitors,” said a zoo official.

On a regular weekday, Byculla Zoo sees up to 5,000-6,000 visitors and on weekends, crowds can climb up to 15,000 people. According to zoo authorities, the facility can still cater to 4,000-5000 visitors at any given time while simultaneously following Covid-19 precautionary measures.

According to the proposal submitted by the zoo, in case the crowds within the premises rise, the gates will be shut for a while and opened only once the number of people reduces. With the zoo having been shut for almost a year, authorities said that there has been a loss of Rs 5 crore. A person wanting to visit the zoo now will have to shell out Rs 50 per visit, while children will be charged Rs 25 per head.

For the first time, visitors will also get to catch a glimpse of the two Royal Bengal tigers, namely Shakti and Karishma, who were brought from Siddharth Garden and Zoo in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad city last February and have been kept in quarantine since. Before the duo could be released to their new enclosure, which is a replica of the Ranthambore National Park and an underwater viewing facility, the zoo was closed for visitors. Additionally, the newly-built walkthrough bird aviary is expected to remain shut.

Under the state government’s ‘Mission Begin Again’ programme, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had allowed the reopening of shops, malls, multiplexes, and theatres. Parks and gardens in the city, including the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivali, have also been opened to tourists and morning-walkers. Such people could also avail monthly passes to the Byculla Zoo for their walks, however, the same was suspended by the civic body in March last year.

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