UNDER AN expansion plan, the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo, popularly known as Byculla zoo, is planning to procure two pairs of zebras from Ramat Gan Safari Park in Israel. The zoo has sought approval from Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to procure the animals from the foreign zoo.
Thailand-based Goatrade Farming Company Ltd was awarded the contract last year to procure and then transport these zebras to Sakkarbaug Zoological Park in Junagadh in Gujarat and Kamla Nehru Prani Sangrahalaya in Indore, in exchange for Asiatic lions. The same firm had procured Humboldt penguins for the zoo.
The purchase has been necessitated after the Central Zoo Authority directed the Byculla zoo to provide animals in exchange for these two zoos in 2019 and the Byculla zoo does not have the same. Under existing rules, animals have to be bartered between zoos. The Central Zoo Authority regulates the exchanges of animals of the endangered category listed under Schedule I and II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, among zoos.
BMC’s Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo, Byculla is undergoing upgradation and renovation. Just before the lockdown last year, a pair of Bengal tigers named Shakti and Karishma were brought from Siddharth Garden and Zoo in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad in exchange for two male and two female spotted deer.
Striped hyenas, a jackal, leopard and sloth bear were brought to the zoo. Officials from the zoo said that once their exotic facility at the Byculla zoo is ready, they also plan to bring zebras to the zoo.
Built in 1982, the construction of 17 animal enclosures in the existing 53-acre area is currently going on. The zoo is also likely to open for visitors from November 1. Enclosures for leopards, sloth bears, hyenas, jackals, sambars, spotted deers, swamp deers, and Madras Pond Turtle have also been constructed. Additional enclosures for otters, Indian wolves, barking deer, Nilgai and four-horned antelopes are under construction.
As per Phase III of the expansion plan, the area of the zoo, currently 53 acres, will be expanded by another 10 acres at an estimated cost of Rs 200 crore. This area is supposed to house the new animals from across the world.
The Central Zoo authority approved the BMC’s plan to get 16 new animals in 2019. The CZA had accorded the final approval to Phase III of the Byculla zoo expansion on February 12, 2019.