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Tamil Nadu: Vandalur zoo reopens after 127 days amid strict Covid guidelines

Closed enclosures like the aviary, nocturnal animal house, aquarium and the serpentarium are not open for the public. Similarly, lion and deer safaris have been discontinued for now.

Written by Janardhan Koushik | Chennai |
August 26, 2021 1:49:35 pm
Tamil Nadu: Vandalur zoo reopens after 127 days amid strict Covid guidelinesThe country’s largest zoological park, which attracts around 20 lakh visitors every year, was shut on April 20 this year following the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. (Express Photo)

The Arignar Anna Zoological Park, popularly known as Vandalur zoo, reopened to the public Wednesday after a gap of 127 days. As a part of the relaxations by the Tamil Nadu government, parks, wildlife sanctuaries have been reopened in the state amid strict guidelines.

The country’s largest zoological park, which attracts around 20 lakh visitors every year, was shut on April 20 this year following the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although the government permitted the park to reopen Monday, the zoo authorities awaited an official order. Wednesday, around 9am, Vandalur zoo and other wildlife sanctuaries like Guindy National Park, Kurumbatti Zoological Park and Amirthi zoo were reopened.

Surpriya Sahu, Principal Secretary, Environmental Change and Forest Department and other senior officials reviewed the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and provided guidelines to be followed to ensure safety of visitors, animals and staff to provide a safe zoo experience. Zoo director V Karunapriya has been tasked to ensure the safety guidelines are followed.

Tamil nadu vandalur zoo covid restrictions guidelines Authorities will check the temperature of every visitor before allowing them to buy tickets. The details of visitors will also be recorded. If anyone is found having symptoms like cold, cough or fever, they will not be allowed to enter the premises. (Express Photo)

The zoo saw a footfall of 1,233 on the opening day. Speaking to indianexpress.com, Dr R Kanchana, Deputy Director of Vandalur zoo, said, “Since the zoo was shut for such a long time the initial days are seeing a thinner crowd but we hope it will gradually increase in the coming days.”

Guidelines issued by the Zoo authorities

Authorities will check the temperature of every visitor before allowing them to buy tickets. The details of visitors will also be recorded. If anyone is found having symptoms like cold, cough or fever, they will not be allowed to enter the premises.

Sanitizers have been kept near the ticket counters. People have to wear masks to enter the zoo. Not more than 7,000 people will be allowed inside the park each day.

As a part of the Covid-19 safety guidelines, through public announcement systems, the authorities are informing visitors about the dos/don’ts inside the park. Visitors are being told to avoid spitting on the ground or near garbage areas and to not touch the enclosure gates.

A team of authorities have been deployed to regularly monitor the crowd and instruct them to follow the SOPs, which includes maintaining social distance.

A penalty of Rs 1000/- would be imposed on the public if they are found violating the norms.

Battery operated vehicles inside the zoo have been sanitised and all staff have been instructed to wear masks and face shields. Ticket counters and washrooms are also being sanitised in the mornings and evenings. Sanitizers and soaps have been kept at different places for public use.

As a precautionary measure, closed enclosures like the aviary, nocturnal animal house, aquarium and the serpentarium are not open for the public. Similarly, lion and deer safaris have been discontinued for now.

Vandalur zoo had around 53 big cats. The pandemic hit the park and two of the 15 Asiatic lions succumbed to the disease. With stringent measures in place, the authorities were able to control the spread among the other big cats. They then took other safety measures which included implementing 100% vaccination among their 352 staff members.

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