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Karnataka zoos reopen except in Mysuru, Bengaluru; authorities contemplate antigen testing for visitors

Staff in all zoos have been vaccinated with at least one dose. The Bannerghatta zoo in Bengaluru is likely to reopen on June 28.

Visitors at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Zoological Park in Hampi. (Express Photo)

Seven zoos in Karnataka — Hampi, Belagavi, Gadag, Shivamogga, Chitradurga, Kalaburagi, Davangere — have reopened hoping to tide over the pandemic-induced financial crunch. Zoos in Bengaluru (Bannerghatta) and Mysuru remain closed. All zoos in the state had been closed since April 24 due to lockdown and other Covid-19 restrictions.

“Most zoos have seen a footfall of nearly 50 on the first day. As days pass, we hope more people would visit zoos by taking all necessary precautions,” Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK) member-secretary BP Ravi said.

Meanwhile, ZAK chairman L R Mahadevaswamy said that the authorities are checking with the health department if visitors should be tested for Covid-19.

“ZAK will facilitate any such demands put forth by the health officials and will strictly adhere to all rules formulated by the district administration. Measures like vaccinating staff across all nine zoos with at least one dose have been achieved with the drive being extended to their family members as well in some places,” Ravi said.

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A senior official said, “We are awaiting a final nod from the health department and the district administration in Bengaluru. If things go well, Bannerghatta zoo will allow visitors from Monday (June 28).”

The Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens in Mysuru is expected to be the last to reopen as it falls within the only district in Karnataka under total lockdown presently.

Ajit M Kulkarni, executive director of the Mysore zoo, said that the only major change in protocol now would be visitors strictly needing to wear masks. “Our staff were using masks, gloves, and sanitisers while going near the animals even before Covid-19 was known to us,” he said.

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Meanwhile, following a recent appeal by actor Darshan Thoogudeepa, the donations to zoos have picked up big time. ZAK has managed to raise more than Rs 2 crore from June 5 to 23, in stark contrast to the about 18 lakh collected from July 29, 2020 to June 4, 2021.

First published on: 24-06-2021 at 20:29 IST
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