Updated: March 27, 2021 8:09:23 am
With Covid-19 safety protocols, improved services for visitors, and some new animal species, Delhi’s National Zoological Park (NZP) is planning to open again for visitors from April 1, after remaining shut for over a year. Zoo director Ramesh Pandey said they used this year-long break for enrichment of animals and improving infrastructure.
When the gates reopen, visitors will be allowed for specific time slots during the day and tickets will be available only online — on the zoo website or through QR codes at the entrance.
Pandey told The Indian Express, “Many zoos have already opened in other parts of the country. In Covid-19 guidelines issued around the start of this month, entertainment parks were allowed to open but we did not have a standard operating procedure in place and we were also doing surveillance of bird flu. Now, if everything goes according to plan and no new restrictions are put in place, we will open from April 1.”
The zoo was put under bird flu surveillance after a brown fish owl kept in captivity tested positive for avian influenza in January. Following that, four serological surveys were done on the premises and after the last two reports came negative, the zoo was put out of surveillance on March 17.
A number of gains have been made by the zoo during the past year, Pandey said, such as an increase in the population of animals to 1,200 at present from 1,005 in March 2020. The species of animals have also gone up to 88 from 83 last year, and efforts are being made to further increase it to 100 by the end of April.
Pandey, who took charge as zoo director in April 2020, also said the NZP is in contact with various zoos for acquiring and exchanging animals, and that visitors can expect to see ostriches and star tortoise added to the inventory in the coming days.
The zoo is also promoting itself as a spot to sight a variety of free range birds, as about 100 species have been noted here so far. A book on these bird species and where to spot them will also be available to visitors when the zoo opens, Pandey said.
Moreover, the zoo has also developed a grove opposite the rhino enclosure where about 100 different species of trees indigenous to the Aravallis will be planted by monsoon this year.
“The idea is that visitors should not just come here to see animals in captivity. Conservation education is also one of our objectives here,” Pandey said, adding that the zoo has been holding online talks on wildlife conservation and
natural history, which would continue.
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