The modernisation project of the Thiruvananthapuram zoo is slowly progressing

The zoo is a different world altogether. The inhabitants of this world are caught somewhere between their natural habitats and a concrete jungle. Given a choice, the animals would prefer to be left alone. However, the zoo needs people to visit them so that there is income with which the animals can be taken care of.

The Thiruvananthapuram zoo, one of the oldest in the country after being established in 1857, is in a transition period. Painstaking efforts are on to do away with the typical iron-barred, cement-floored, dingy animal cages, which rather than offering comfortable housing for animals, have become ‘monuments of the royal style and architectural supremacy,’ as the official website (keralamuseumandzoo.org) itself says. The modernisation project is slowly progressing.

And in the meanwhile, plans are afoot to increase the footfalls through diverse means. According to a senior zoo official, the beginning of next year could see schools being invited to bring their students over to the zoo for one-day programmes that would involve classes for the children rather than mere sight-seeing trips. Whole-day camps, after which the children would leave educated on the animals they see, rather than just seeing them, are the idea.

Further, to help the grownups as well, voluntary guides, to comprise mostly retired government employees, would also be appointed. As of now, there are no guided tours of the zoo and the idea is to make the visit a more interesting affair for all sections.

Sparrow breeding

A house sparrow breeding centre, which will see schools joining hands with the zoo to take away sparrows to schools and the students owning these little birds, is also on the anvil. Similar to adoption programmes run in several other zoos, this is likely to involve the public as well.

The off-site captive breeding programme for the Lion-tailed Macaque too is to continue with renewed vigour, for which the partnership with the Vandalur zoo will be used.

“We are also trying for a link-up with the Dehiwala zoo in Sri Lanka, with whom we have already joined hands to bring anacondas here. We are looking at further exchange programmes since they have a surplus of several animals which we do not have. A working relationship in that way, if it clicks, will help in bringing back the lost glory of the Thiruvananthapuram zoo,” the official said.

Efforts are also on to obtain a membership with the World Association of Aquariums and Zoos (WAZA), of which the Central Zoo Authority is also a member. But a direct membership is expected to bring in several advantages and embellish further the proposed outreach programme of the zoo here.

A Gharial Conservation Breeding Centre too is being contemplated, the official said, adding that all these would require a well-planned popularization drive, for which an action plan is being chalked out.