Soon, guided tours at Byculla Zoo

If everything goes as per the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) makeover plan for the Byculla zoo, then soon, the 150-year-old zoo would be getting a new lease of life.

Thick glass fences would be added around enclosures, so that visitors
have an uninterrupted view of the animals in the Byculla zoo

It’s been a while since the zoo authorities and the civic body have been at the receiving end for their lackadaisical approach in maintaining the zoo and its flora and fauna.

The Rs 150 crore makeover plan is in the final stage of approval with the Central Zoo Authority (CZA).

Guided tours
According to Anil Anjankar, director of Byculla zoo, “Since the makeover is on the cards, we are planning to introduce guided tours for visitors, on an hourly basis.

We’ll be hiring experts zoologists and botanists once the renovation concludes. These experts can then explain the importance of having flora and fauna to the visitors.”

He further stated that currently, a botanist has been helping the zoo to maintain its flora and has been organising botanical tours for groups of interested students. Anjankar added that once the makeover was complete, the service would be extended to all the visitors.

“We are paying him (botanist) Rs 1,000 for conducting tours and seminars. These seminars are organised once a week, depending on their demand.”

The proposal
Commenting on the makeover, Anjankar said that once the proposal is approved by the CZA, the renovation of the zoo will be carried out in three phases and would be done by August 2014.

Explaining the Phase I, the director stated that it would include filling up existing empty enclosures and setting up eight new ones.

“Once the CZA approves the measurements for the enclosures and gives its nod, HKS Consultant will start working on the technical details of the master plan,” added Anjankar.

The zoo management is now eagerly awaiting the final blueprint and is likely to commence work in a month’s time. “There are a few minor changes and we are waiting for the final blueprint.

We are planning to install a glass fence for animal enclosures so that visitors can have a clear view of the animals.

Moreover, the glass that will be utilised for the purpose will be sturdy so that animals like hippos and elephants won’t be able to break it,” stated Anjankar.

Helping hand
The Save Rani Bagh Committee is already preparing informative booklets and are busy numbering enclosures and trees on the zoo’s premises. These booklets will have information on each enclosure and tree depending on its number.

Post-makeover attractions
The zoo will have a total of 340 animals and birds
Ten pairs of exotic Humboldt penguins, emus and zebras will be added
Indian species: hyena, jackal, wolf, wild dog, sloth bear, porcupine, mouse deer, gaur, sambar, swamp deer, Asiatic lion, Bengal tiger, leopard, jungle cat, common otter, palm civet cat
An interpretation centre, the heritage structures on the premises would be restored
Additional toilets, resting places, rain sheds, drinking fountain and car parking

Revamped proposal
Earlier, the CZA had turned down BMC’s Rs 480-crore makeover proposal on May 11, stating that it was impractical and that the civic body had overlooked the heritage committee’s objections. Following its rejection, the BMC reworked on the proposal (Rs 150-crore) in accordance with the CZA norms.

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