Seven months after they were bought to the city, seven Humboldt penguins will finally go on display to the public on Saturday after their newly built enclosure in Byculla zoo is inaugurated on Friday evening.
With civic officials yet to send a formal proposal to group leaders on charging an entry fee of Rs100 for adults and Rs50 for children below 12 for the penguin exhibit, you can, for now, view the penguins for just Rs5 – the entry fee of Byculla zoo. However, this will only further increase the expected rush. A zoo official said, “As it is a weekend we are expecting a huge turnout but if that causes problem for the penguins, we may restrict the number visitors allowed inside based on the vets’ advice.”
The inauguration date was finalised after the city’s new mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar wrote to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) authorities proposing that the exhibit be inaugurated on Friday by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. The penguin exhibit was a pet project of Thackeray and cost the BMC Rs64 crore.
After a positive report from microbiologists who tested the condition of the enclosure, especially the water, the penguins were moved from their 250-square-foot quarantine area to their 1,550-square-foot permanent home on March 6. Extra care was taken keeping in mind the criticism that the BMC came in for when one of the eight penguins brought from Seoul, a female named Dory, died of an infection last October.
“We shifted the penguins early as we wanted to give them at least a week to adapt to their new home. After consulting doctors and considering that the statutory committee chairmen also will be appointed by then, we decided to go ahead with the inauguration on Friday. We are also likely to have a group of municipal students visit the exhibit on Wednesday,” said a zoo department official.
Yashwant Jadhav, Shiv Sena group leader in the BMC, said, “As we had promised, our mayor and party chief will inaugurate the exhibit. The inauguration will take place around 6pm on Friday.”