With 70,000 people queuing up to see seven Humboldt penguins, the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan or Byculla zoo has earned 50% of its revenue, Rs3.6 lakh, within a week.
The penguin enclosure was thrown open to public on Friday. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) body is yet to charge fee for viewing penguins. For now, people can view these birds at a nominal cost of Rs5, which is the entry fee to the zoo.
The penguins, kept in a 1,550-sqft soundproof public exhibit, have been attracting a large number of visitors.
The zoo authorities, on an average, sell tickets worth Rs24,000 a day. After the exhibit was thrown open for public viewing, the sale has shot up by more than 100% a day. Last Sunday, the collection crossed Rs1.10 lakh, with more than 25,000 visiting the zoo to see the penguins. The officials said this is the first time they were witnessing such a good response and the crowd has not has not reduced even on weekdays.
The civic authorities are mulling charging Rs100 for the penguin exhibit, said Sanjay Tripathi, director of the zoo. “We are expecting good turnout the coming weekend. Increasing the entry fee will get us funds for welfare of the zoo,” said a civic official.
Finding it difficult to control the crowd, the civic officials have got police personnel deployed to prevent a law and order situation.
Let children see Humboldt penguins at Byculla zoo: High Court
Let children see the Humboldt penguins, why do you want to deprive them of the opportunity, the Bombay high court (HC) on Friday asked a petitioner who wants the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to return the bird to South Korea’s capital Seoul, where they were brought from.
Eight penguins were brought to Mumbai on July 26, 2016. A female penguin, Dory, died on October 23.
“The penguins will survive. Over a period of time, they will get acclimatised,” said a bench after the petitioner advocate Advait Sethna expressed fears that the birds may not survive in Mumbai’s hot weather.
“Sometimes, things have to be done on a trial basis,” the bench said.
After Sethna contended that several local animals had died in the zoo in the past few years because of lack of proper care and facilities, the bench issued a notice to the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), seeking a reply.
Sethna said the CZA has already issued a notice to the zoo over lack of proper kitchen and other facilities.
Senior advocate Anil Sakhare, who represented the BMC, countered the contention saying the CZA representatives inspect the zoo every year, and the zoo authorities plug the loopholes pointed by them.
Sakhare said the civic body was not averse to a visit by an expert or inspection of the zoo.
Sethna argued that the penguins fall under the category of vulnerable species under international conventions.
But the bench questioned whether international law or the law in India prohibited exhibition of the penguins.
“Is any legal procedure violated? Show us what law prohibits exhibition of penguins,” said the bench.
The judges said it would be better for experts to visit the facility and report to the court as to whether the penguins were being looked after properly or not.