Brakes on Chhatbir zoo’s expansion plans as revenue takes a hit amid lockdown
With no revenue for the past two months due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown and little hope of a government grant amid the crumbling economy, Mahendra Chaudhary Zoological Park’s development and expansion plans are likely to take a hit.
The zoo, popularly known as Chhatbir Zoo, had been earning Rs 1.8 lakh a day before the lockdown and was hoping to become self-reliant in the next two years. It had even added numerous features, such as an aviary and new ticket counters, besides carrying out road maintenance to attract more visitors. With no scope of government funds this year, further development activities are unlikely.
Besides, the zoo spends about Rs 30 lakh a month on meat, fodder, grains, fruits and vegetables for the animals. “Though there is no revenue generation, we are not cutting down on expenses incurred on feed, fodder or health care of the animals. The zoo was aiming at becoming self-reliant in two years but that seems difficult now,” said a zoo official, not willing to be named.
Zoo field director M Sudhaga said, “Owing to the pandemic, there is a downfall in the revenue generation. We had collected about Rs 6.2-crore revenue last year.”
The revenue came through outsourcing of the parking, canteen and lion safari-- all of which have been closed due to the pandemic. The tickets are priced at Rs 80 for adults and Rs 40 for children which contributes to generating revenue of Rs 1.8 lakh daily on an average. Lion and deer safari tickets cost Rs 75 per visitor. The zoo used to have around 3,000 visitors a day.
With the loss of income eating into the savings of the zoo, the authorities have now approached the Punjab government for relaxations. The cabinet had last year directed Chhatbir zoo to deposit funds collected in the zoo society funds after deducting the expenses and use the rest of the funds after taking permission from the government.
DINOSAUR PARK HIT TOO
The Punjab government had planned to open a Dinosaur Park on two acres in the zoo but that plan is also likely to be put on the back-burner. “The park is being developed on public-private partnership (PPP) mode and work had started on it but now the private partner has sought some relaxations from the government,” informed a senior official.
As per the proposal, six dinosaurs will be made in the park of which four will be robotic and two will be interactive models.