The National Zoological Garden in Delhi is planning a major overhaul of its existing facilities to attract more visitors and to keep its animals healthy.
New features such as interpretation centres and visitors’ room with special facilities for lactating mothers, will be introduced. Zoo authorities are also planning to revive some old facilities that once used to exist but were withdrawn or shut down – the toy train and nocturnal house.
“We are planning to introduce some new facilities in the Delhi zoo to make it more attractive. Funds won’t be any constraint,” said a senior official of the ministry of environment and forest.
The Delhi zoo is the only zoo in the country managed by the union ministry. Zoos are managed by the respective state governments.
This is a special kind of dark enclosure where nocturnal animals like Civets, Owls and Lorises are kept.
At present, these animals are kept in normal cages and they sleep during the day.
Inside a nocturnal house these animals would become active allowing visitors to encounter them.
“The basic idea of a nocturnal house is to change the biological clock of the animals with the help of light. Such a facility is available at the Lucknow Zoo. Delhi zoo had this facility, but it was shut down later,” Renu Singh, director of the Delhi Zoo, said.
The toy train was introduced in the Delhi zoo in the mid-1970s, but was later withdrawn. Such joy rides are available in other zoos, including the Kanpur Zoo.
“We are planning to revive the facility. A visitor buys a ticket and can then just hop in and hop off in front of an enclosure. The train would stop at various locations,” said the director of Delhi Zoo.
Efforts are on to bring in new animals such as zebra, giraffe, ostrich and the African lion, among others.
“There are some animals such as the African Elephant, Striped Hyena, Slow Loris, Cape Buffalo and a few other birds, which have lost their mates. We will try to procure mates for them. We are looking for options,” said Singh.
Animals such as deer and antelope are vulnerable to inbreeding. Authorities are planning to either exchange some of them with other zoos to procure new members and infuse fresh genes in the herds.
This facility will help educate visitors. There would be animal models, interactive kiosks and posters. Visitors will learn about animal behaviour and their habits with touch screen facilities.
“We are also planning to screen some short films about animals, keep animal models and play sounds imitating the calls of animals to educate the visitors,” said a senior zoo official.
Various types of educational programmes such as bird watching, tree identification, puppet shows, and activities like a ‘Clean the Zoo’ competition would be introduced for school children, especially during vacations.
A visitors’ room will be constructed to provide some resting space for the tired, along with a waiting room.
“We would also try to make some special arrangements for lactating mothers who often come with their children and need some secluded area,” said Singh.
The space would have washrooms and a seating capacity to accommodate around 50 people at a time.
Tie-up with met department
As extreme weather conditions and drastic changes in temperature make many animals vulnerable to disease and often lead to death, zoo authorities would soon be taking the help of the met department to get advance forecasts.
“The Indian Meteorological Department’s advance weather forecasts would give us time to prepare for extreme weather,” said an official.