A hefty cut in the food budget is going to make this harsh winter even harsher for the residents of the Delhi zoo.
A popular destination across the NCR, the Capital’s zoo is the only one that is directly under the ministry of environment and forests. Now that the ministry is planning a 10% cut in its non-plan expenditure, it will mean less on the table for the animals and birds.
Of the around Rs. 11-crore annual budget for the zoo, about R10 crore is spent under the non-plan category — covering mainly food, sanitation, power and water bills and the keepers’ wages.
The zoo registers an average daily footfall of about 5,000, going up to 10,000-12,000 on Sundays and public holidays.
Zoo keepers say the big cats get 1-2 kg more meat during winters. The herbivores are also offered a wider variety of options.
Foods offered to herbivores include raw amla, seasonal fruits, groundnuts, sugarcane and even special khichri for elephants and rhinos. Plus, boiled eggs are a favourite with chimpanzees and birds.
A zoo official said, “In such harsh weather conditions, we would be forced to cut the food expenditure.”
What’s more, the spend cut on sanitation, too, can prove harmful, as more than 30 black bucks died in 2010 after drinking contaminated water.
Said SS Garbyal, additional director general (wildlife) in the ministry: “The 10% cut has been effective across board. We are going to take up the matter with the finance department.”