The government would, this week itself, constitute an advisory committee for the Thiruvananthapuram zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the country. A government order in this regard would be issued immediately, the Minister for Culture and Education M.A. Baby said here.

He was speaking after inaugurating the new aviary and after laying the foundation stone for the new zoo office-cum-store complex on Friday morning. Mr. Baby also inaugurated a drive to clean the lake inside the zoo compound.

The new aviary was constructed at a cost of Rs. 31.50 lakhs and meets international standards for such a structure, the Minister said. The zoo has also initiated measures to purchase birds worth Rs. 1 crore.

The government is spending Rs. 98 lakhs to clean up the sprawling zoo lake. “Once the cleaning is over, if zoo officials and visitors do not take care to maintain the cleanliness of the water body then the drive would have been in vain,” the minister cautioned. Boats that can operate without diesel, petrol or any other oil would be deployed on the lake once the cleaning drive is over.

The new aviary has been constructed right next to the old bird house located in one of the mostly densely vegetated areas inside the zoo. The new structure offers birds more space to move around and also allows them limited space for flying. There are 10 nesting boxes, a number of perches-two of which are made of bamboo-and feeding troughs. From among two artificial hillocks, water fountains empty into a pool.

On Wednesday give grey pelicans, one rosy pelican and two grey herons were let into the new aviary. By and by the Ibis and the spoon bill too would be let into the aviary. The zoo plans to let all water birds into the new aviary and keep birds of prey inside the old structure.

The old facility constructed decades did not allow adequate light and air inside. As a result many of the birds had, over the years, developed fungal infections on their feet. In comparison, the new structure is awash in sunlight. The old aviary was also viewer-unfriendly; visitors often had a tough time seeing the birds through the small wire mesh that surrounds the structure.

As part of the cleaning drive the huge lake would be de-silted and an embankment would be built all around.. A cobbled pathway would be constructed along the lake’s perimeter. The project would be executed by COSTFORD.

The drive would be held in two phases. After the cleaning and beautification work is completed, special chairs and benches would be installed around the lake for visitors.