According to officials, the several restrictions that are in force as part of the COVID prevention measure and the lack of adequate bus and train services have also affected the visitor inflow.
On Friday, the zoo recorded a marginal increase in footfall to 900 visitors, said an official, adding that a lot of people have left Chennai for their native district to celebrate Deepavali.
“Further, the fear of coronavirus is making the round among public. But despite these factors, the footfall is picking up. We cannot compare the current figures with that of previous years. The public sentiment towards parks and zoos will pick up by next month,” said the official, expressing confidence that the number of visitors to the zoo would be back to the usual by Christmas, New Year and Pongal holidays.
Some of the official also believe that the decision to steeply increase entry fee at the zoo and children’s parks – to Rs 90 from Rs 75 for adults and to Rs 50 from Rs 35 in the case of children – could have also affected the numbers.
However, an official noted that the revision of entry fee was a long due and orders were passed even before the COVID lockdown. “We had to increase the fee to meet our expenses and to ensure proper hygiene in toilets and the play areas for children,” said a park official, noting how the rate of entry at Vandalur zoo was cheaper when compared to other zoos in the country. He added that the rates charged for lion safari and battery vehicle rides have not been increased.
The increased ticket fare could have adversely impacted visitor inflow, especially in a post-COVID financial crunch situation. However, park functionaries were optimistic of higher visitor inflow in the coming months.