With zero revenue from visitors, zoos struggle to feed animals this lockdown

Arignar Anna Zoological Park at Vandalur remains closed even as the number of COVID cases has declined in the city. This has led to financial constraints.
With zero revenue from visitors, zoos struggle to feed animals this lockdown

Chennai

Zoo officials said they have been severely affected by the pandemic without enough funds and that the cost of feeding animals runs into lakhs but the funds from NGOs and philanthropists are not adequate. As the main source of income for the maintenance of the zoo comes in the form of entry fees, the prolonged lockdown has resulted in the draining of revenue in the past year.
“The zoo used to receive nearly 20 lakh visitors and revenue of Rs 15 crore per year. The cost of feeding the animals at Vandalur zoo alone comes to around Rs 55 lakh per month and Rs 6 lakh per month at Guindy National Park. In Vandalur, we have carnivores leading to higher feed costs and maintenance.
Also, the faculty is spread across 602ha, requiring regular maintenance,” said Naga Sathish, deputy director of Vandalur zoo. He is also in charge of the Guindy National Park. “We are currently managing through those who adopt animals, breaking fixed deposits and even postponing some payments.
We haven’t approached any NGOs or trusts for help yet but have ramped up adoptions. Through active reach out programmes, we have managed 800 adoptions in the last month. But the number is still not good as Mysore zoo,” he said. The official added that the government gave Rs 6.5 crore for the zoo the year before so they have sent a proposal again and are waiting for approval. Apart from feeding costs, there are maintenance expenses. The management provides PPE kits to all watchers of big cats, sanitisation materials and medical costs.
Meanwhile, the first reptile park in India, Chennai Snake Park, has also been severely affected. The average annual income at the Park is about Rs 80 lakh and it is largely received from the entry fee. The average annual expenditure for all maintenance, including staffs salary, is about Rs 75 lakhs. The total loss of this income resulted in a severe financial crisis. “Although this park is closed for visitors, regular maintenance of reptiles and other animals has to continue. During the lockdown, the feeding maintenance work has become costly.
This resulted in extra expenditure on feeding maintenance. The Park now rears about 20 species of snakes, three species of crocodiles, lizards, turtles, etc, totalling about 300 animals. Contributions from a few philanthropist organisations have helped. With these contributions, the trust was able to manage the park for the past year, however, all the funds were almost exhausted by May 2021. The leftover saving fund of Rs 6 lakh will last for one more month.

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