The Delhi Zoo has never got it so good as it hosted over 20 lakh visitors over the past year,and recorded a visible increase in the number of animals from 1,507 in 2010-2011 to 1,552 this year.
The zoo,spread over 176 acres along the Mughal-era Old Fort,attracts about 5,000 to 6,000 visitors on an average every day. It hosted 20,40,867 people between April 2011 and March 2012,which has been the highest since it opened in 1959,zoo curator R A Khan said.
Thats four lakh people more than last year. Maximum footfalls were recorded during India Trade Fair at the nearby Pragati Maidan. The number could be much higher since the visits of VIPs and other guests were not counted. The previous record was 17.77 lakh during 2008-2009, Khan said.
The increase in footfall has pushed up the zoos proceeds from ticket sales from Rs 2.37 crore to Rs 4.03 crore,the curator said. The zoo gives its revenue to the central government. This later comes back to us as part of the annual budget, he said.
There were good tidings for the animals as well. Though the number of species has remained unchanged at 110,the 2011-2012 annual inventory says the zoo now has 45 more animals.
Births in captivity has been a major achievement. There have also been a some acquisitions,the latest being a pair of wolves, a zoo official said.
The cynosure of all eyes is a hippopotamus calf born on May 30 to an eight-year-old mother,who was brought to Delhi from Bangalore to prevent inbreeding. The baby was a success after two failed pregnancies. Now the number of hippos in the zoo have gone up to six,four adults along with two youngsters, zoo veterinarian Dr Panneer Selvam said.
But the space allotted for hippos cannot support such a large population. We will have to look at exchange programmes to reduce the number, he said.
Among the zoos collection are 22 highly endangered species that come under Schedule One of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972. Also in its repertoire are 32 species of exotic animals from across the world.