The National Zoological Park on Wednesday opened its gates for public again, three months after a bird flu scare had prompted a shutdown of the premise.
On Wednesday, the zoo witnessed a healthy turnout, though there were a number of tourists who still said they avoided a visit, still fearing the avian flu.
One such tourist who avoided the zoo on Wednesday was B Madhavi, 43, who had come to Delhi with her family from Tamil Nadu.
Wrapped in a grey shawl and a maroon scarf knotted below her chin, Madhavi sat in the tourist bus while the others in her family went inside the zoo.
“I do not want to take any chance. It is the first day of the zoo opening after so many months. I have been watching the news and know how severe the avian flu was in Delhi,” she said.
Tour operators said that there were many people like Madhavi who preferred to skip the zoo visit on Wednesday.
“We did not force anyone. We had announced in the bus that the zoo has reopened and took a vote on a visit by a show of hands. There were many who did not want to take a chance and stayed back. If a majority of people did not want to go, we would have dropped the zoo and substituted it with some other location,” said Sayeed Naz, a tour guide who was accompanied a bunch of 20 visitors who had come from Varanasi.
The visit to the Delhi Zoo was cancelled from the itineraries of many tour guides and operators after its closure on October 19, last year.
On Wednesday, however, ‘Welcome Back’ signs greeted the visitors at the gates.
Zoo officials said the first day—after being shut for 84 days—witnessed over 6,200 visitors. This is higher than the usual footfall of the zoo on weekdays. In the coming days the footfall is likely to go up.
“Many people did not know about the opening today. Yet, we managed a great attendance. We are expecting that in the coming week the footfall will increase. The major attractions were the white tiger, leopard, Bengal tiger and the lion,” said Riaz Khan, spokesperson of Delhi zoo.
Apart from a part of the pelican pond, all enclosures were accessible to the public on Wednesday.
“There is no danger. A portion of the pelican pond was shut just as an extra precautionary measure,” Khan said.