After eight Asiatic lions tested positive for Covid-19 at Hyderabad’s Nehru Zoological Park, officials have announced the closure of Mahendra Chaudhary Zoological Park, also known as Chhatbir Zoo in Chandigarh, until May 31.
“As of now, all the animals here are safe,” said Naresh Mahajan, field director of Chhatbir Zoo in Chandigarh, “but we don’t want to take any risks, so we have shut the zoo until May 31.”
Last year, Chhatbir Zoo has been shut down due to a pandemic on March 17. However, it resumed in December, costing the sanctuary Rs5 crore in revenue.
Before the lockdown, the zoo has been receiving Rs8 lakh per day and hoping to become self-sufficient within the next two years. However, it saw a 33% drop in footfall on the first day of its reopening on December 10, last year.
On that day, only 1,100 visitors were there at Chhatbir Zoo. As there has been no permission for people over the age of 65 and children under the age of five.
Management at the Chhatbir Zoo in Chandigarh
According to Mahajan, the chhatbir zoo’s management has mounted CCTV cameras to track the animals. Previously, only newborn animals were under monitoring by the management. Now there is the installation of cameras in every enclosure, he added.
The pandemic has not only hampered revenue production at the zoo. However, it has also delayed its transition to self-sufficiency by two years. The year 2020 has been the year when it will become self-sustaining. Moreover, the situation would be no different in 2021. The field director claimed that the chhatbir zoo had a revenue collection of Rs 6.5 crore in the 2019-20 fiscal year and was on its way to being self-sufficient. In contrast, Covid-19 has pushed it back by two years.
Now officials will have to start over. Because the lockdown time has already eaten up a significant portion of our revenue. We have many ongoing costs, such as feeding the animals and paying caretakers. Each month, the animals consume Rs 30 lakh in meat, fodder, grains, fruits, and vegetables. Despite the fact that the Punjab government is providing the grant, visitor collection has been nil during the lockdown.”
Chhatbir Zoo is one of India’s largest zoos. It covers 505 acres of forest in Mohali. It is home to approximately 1,500 animals and birds, including five adult tigers and three cubs.