WHILE modern zoos across the world aim to promote animal conservation, educate people and support wildlife research, for Mumbaikars, a visit to the Byculla zoo is more of an opportunity to enjoy open spaces. On Monday afternoon, while the zoo was far from empty, the number of families with children were few and far between. The majority of the visitors were clearly there to enjoy the grounds — mostly teenagers and youngsters in their twenties — practising photography, clicking selfies and making use of the space to relax with friends.
Doris Matthews, among the few visiting the zoo with a child, said she brought her grandson there because she remembered it having a number of different kinds of species some years ago. Matthews said she believes it is extremely important for children to see wildlife, for that is the only way they can begin to be sensitive towards them. Disappointed that the number of animals had dwindled, she said the Byculla zoo had lost its charm. Other visitors too were overheard complaining about the lack of animals and recreational facilities.
A security guard said these are quiet months for the zoo, owing to the construction work for the proposed revamp. A group of four children, who had come to the zoo to see the animals, said they were sad because there were just a few monkeys and hippos here and no big cats, but they still managed to enjoy themselves playing in the huge expanse of greenery.