Ahead of the civic elections scheduled in February, the ruling Shiv Sena vetoed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) plan to increase Byculla zoo’s entry fee. On Saturday, the party — in a bid to kick-start its pet project early — also announced that the penguin exhibit will be free for children for two months.
“We cancelled the plan to increase the entry fee as there was no clarity on the issue. Instead, we have thrown open the penguin exhibit. It will be free for children till March,” said Trushna Vishwasrao, group leader, Shiv Sena.
The pet project of Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray, the penguin enclosure was planned nine years ago.
However, the first phase of the project is yet to begin four years after a revised master plan was approved by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) in New Delhi.
After the death of one of the eight Humboldt penguins and termination of the current contractor’s agreement in October, the BMC was under pressure from the ruling party, and hence tried to open the exhibit in November, well before the elections code of conduct was enforced.
However, the BMC is yet to open the exhibit to the public and aims to inaugurate it by the end of this month.
At a group leader’s meeting, the BMC also tabled the proposal to increase Byculla zoo’ entry fee from Rs10 to Rs100 after the exhibit is opened to the public. The civic body has been trying to increase the fare since 2014, without success.
Currently, the entry fare for children is Rs5.The zoo houses about 130 animals and 300 birds.The penguins arrived at the zoo from Seoul in South Korea in July.
The zoo had also planned to procure a jackal, wolf, leopard, Madras turtle and several other species as part of the first phase of its revamp plan.However, this has now been delayed until a new contractor is appointed.