Friday, 6 April 2007

Mumbai zoo to be revamped after 150 years

The inmates of Veermata Jijabai Udyan, Byculla, used to live like they were meant to: like animals. Various specimens of the animal and bird kingdom in Mumbai's lone zoo were neglected, watering holes were often empty, elephants were chained almost all day long and animals inbred in contravention of zoo regulations. Some of the pools and troughs, the animals' watering holes, stayed empty, or dotted with solidified algae mass.

In the absence of trees to swing from, the monkeys were forced to use wired fences, tiers and metal swings. The cramped enclosures would also trigger off fights between animals, as in the case of the hippo Guru, who either slipped or was thrown into the moat after a slugfest with his neighbor.

But, things are likely to be changed. All the animals and birds ensconced at historic Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan (VJBU) are to be shaken up soon, in the first-ever major overall revamp of their surroundings.

Byculla Zoo (also known as Rani baugh) is likely to undertake its first-ever major revamp and most comprehensive since its inception in 1862. Two workshops have been conducted, and the plans have been cleared in concept by the Central Zoo Authority. They want to enhance the zoo's habitants with more animals from Australia, New Zealand and Africa and Asia. VJBU, the almost 150-year old institution is being transformed into a 'global entity in keeping with trends in the country'. Ambitious 'imports' include zebras and giraffes.

The 52-acre plot handed over to BMC in 1873, will be re-graphed continent-wise with efforts to locate the animals in surroundings close to their natural habitats. Also the zoo's topography which at present resembles a game reserve will receive a 'beautification treatment' with the placement of a water body in the centre, better cages, educative mapping and varied flora.

Over the past two weeks, representatives of Bangkok-based HKS Designers and Consultants International Co Ltd and US-based landscape designers Portico Group had been sending proposals to the BMC for their approval.

VJBU is also a botanical park, with trees almost 200 years old and is a good two degrees cooler than outside its gates-(which has the crowded vegetable market) a welcome relief for those wishing to stroll through.

The Bhau Daji Lad Museum, inside the Zoo gardens was renovated recently as part of the educative efforts, is awaiting inauguration...

Another unique feature of the new plan will be the two-tiered system of ticketing... with those willing to pay more being allowed to enter 'zone two' which will have more exotic breeds

The zoo now has 208 animals including deer, reptiles, and six emus. The magnificent 400-strong bird fraternity includes peacocks, black swans, pelicans, egrets, military macaus and Japanese stalks.

If you happen to go by the Byculla Zoo, do stretch your ears and hear the animals say 'We are ready.... brings on the works!


Manisha said...

Havent these proposals being made in the past and yet there has been no change whatsoever. As a mumbaiite, it bothers me to know that people have such an indifferent attitude towards the zoo. Am praying that there is a change this time.....else we are no less than butchers....torturing and killing these animals!

pushpa said...

I can see your frustrations, but like all other plans, it always takes way too loooooong time to get things done in Mumbai...but eventually they do get done..we have learnt to wait and watch.....

The name "Bombay" was derived from 'Bom Bahia' (The Good Bay),

.... a name given by Portuguese sailor Francis Almeida, in 1508 ....“Bounce back Mumbai” it is called by the locals, it is a city that has been through a lot in the recent past – floods, bomb blasts, riots – and come out stronger each time.

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