After penguins, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) received approval from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to get 16 more animals, including emu, mandrill, okapi, jaguar, white lion and chimpanzee. The CZA has accorded the final approval to the Phase III of the Byculla zoo expansion on February 12.
The Veermata Jeejabai Bhosale Udyan, popularly called the Byculla zoo, was built in 1982 and is spread over 53 acres. At present, it is home to monkeys, crocodiles, elephants, deer, hippopotamus, penguins and a surplus of exotic birds. The phase III includes expansion of the existing zoo by 12 acres at a cost of Rs 200 crore.
The civic body recently acquired a seven-acre plot from Mafatlal Mills after years of litigation. The BMC aims to start construction of enclosures by May and complete the work in two years. The civic body plans to bring in giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, lemurs, ostrich and kangaroos from abroad.
Under the phase II of the expansion plan, the BMC had planned to get several animals, including jackals from Surat, wolves from Jodhpur, lions from Junagadh, tigers from Aurangabad zoos, four-horned antelope, black buck and otters, as well as construct 17 animal enclosures. Out of these animals, the BMC has received an approval to get swamp deer, for which it will send a team to Kanpur Zoological park on Saturday. The civic body will exchange a pair of military macaques and night herons for deer.
Also by March-end, the administration is expecting to get jackals from Surat in exchange of barking deer. Zoos across the country follow a barter system, wherein a zoo offers animals, which it has in surplus, in exchange of those that they want. After an exchange of letters between Maharashtra and Gujarat chief ministers, the Byculla zoo will also get lion from Junagadh by March-end as a donation.
The exchange of lion had a hit a roadblock after the Junagadh zoo demanded a giraffe, which is not available with the Byculla zoo.
Meanwhile, the 3D theatre constructed by the BMC, where it collaborated with the Animal Planet to show four shows, is awaiting a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Mumbai Fire Brigade and the Public Works Department. “The fire brigade NOC is expected in a day or two, following which we will be apply for the PWD NOC,” said Sudhir Naik, deputy municipal commissioner, administration.