The joyride at Lucknow zoo is set to get better, more comfortable, as a new toy train is to replace the rickety one that chugs along at present.
Started on Children's Day in 1969, the zoo's train, though a little wobbly, is the only operational toy train in Uttar Pradesh, and the 1.5-km journey is quite popular among both children and adults.
Addressing the closing ceremony of a function to mark the Wildlife Week at Nagine Wali Baradari on Saturday, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said, "The existing train is quite old. I think a new and better one should replace it."
Akhilesh, who gave away prizes to winners of different competitions held for children as part of the Wildlife Week, told forest and zoo officials that the zoo is free to acquire "any toy train that can run faster, looks better and offers a better and more comfortable ride".
Children, he said, not only be entertained by coming to zoo, but also learn a lesson on wildlife and environment.
The announcement comes a week after Akhilesh's children visited the zoo with their mother Dimple Yadav, and rode the toy train.
According to officials, the Kannauj MP reached the zoo with her children unannounced and hopped on the train on one of its routine trips without any special arrangements made for the family. Minister of state for zoological gardens Shiv Pratap Yadav said the annual budget for the zoo had also been increased from the current Rs. 70 lakh per annum to Rs. 2 crore.
"Prices have gone up therefore the chief minister has taken the decision to raise the budget so that the zoo can be managed well," he added. Besides a new toy train, "frozen zoo" is being planned at Lucknow zoo. A frozen zoo is a facility to collect and store genetic material such as DNA, sperm, eggs and embryos at very low temperature using cryogenics. "Soon, a team will be formed that will travel to Australia where the concept of frozen zoo is applied," said SP Yadav.