Updated: September 5, 2021 8:40:04 pm
The BMC is likely to spend around Rs 5 crore per annum for the next three years for the upkeep of seven penguins in Byculla zoo in Mumbai. The civic body has floated a tender at an estimated cost of Rs 15.26 crore for the upkeep of the flightless birds for the next 36 months.
As the current contract will end this month, the BMC floated the tender in August. The current contract was awarded at a cost of Rs 11.5 crore in September 2018 for three years. The sum will be spent on maintenance and air-conditioning of penguin exhibition and quarantine enclosures, life support and electrical system, veterinary officers’ service and supply of fish food for penguins.
On increase in the cost for upkeep of penguins, zoo Director Sanjay Tripathi said, “We have considered 5 to 10 per cent increase in amenities – food prices for example – in calculating the estimated cost. We have not added any new condition or amenities to the tender, it is similar to the contract issued three years ago.”
As part of its revamp project, the Byculla zoo had bought eight penguins from Seoul in South Korea on July 26, 2016 at a cost of Rs 45 crore. With their viewing enclosure ready a year later, seven penguins (one had died two months after being brought to the zoo) were put up for public display in March 2017.
According to zoo officials, the seven penguins – Bubble, Mr Molt, Donald, Daisy, Popeye, Olive and Flipper – have developed a special liking for the Bombay Duck (Bombil) fish. They like sharp smelling fish, which is stored in a blast freezer especially procured for them.
While at least 5 to 6 kg of fish are required every day for the penguins, more than half of it is Bombay Duck. Penguins are also fed other fish rich in oil like Eel, Sardine and Anchovies.
At present, their upkeep is managed by the Highway Constructions, which was embroiled in a controversy over the penguin enclosure. The BMC had levied a fine of Rs 1.4 crore on the company after it found out that the firm had falsely claimed it had a joint venture with a company having expertise in developing support systems for aquatic life.
Before the zoo was shut for visitors owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, penguins were the most popular among the visitors.
During weekdays, the visitor count at the zoo is between 7,000 and 10,000, while during weekdays and holidays, its surges past 15,000. The BMC had earned Rs 10.57 crore as revenue between April 2017 and July 2019.
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