State zoos grapple to sustain themselves amidst COVID-19 crisis

Steep fall in revenue since reopening forces the Zoo Authority of Karnataka to look for more public donations, animal adoptions

Poor footfall in the State’s zoological gardens, including Mysuru Zoo and Bannerghatta Biological Park (BPP), since their reopening on June 8 has forced the Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK) to mull over launching an Android mobile application for raising contributions. This is in view of the unprecedented crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic.

As the zoos were grappling to sustain themselves over steep fall in revenue, the ZAK, which has already sought a special grant from the government, is developing the app to be launched on Google Playstore where anybody can make a donation to the zoo of their choice and get a virtual certificate from it acknowledging their gesture.

The zoos are run solely on gate collections which had dried up for over three months due to coronavirus-induced lockdown. Domestic and global tourism were badly hit, affecting tourist arrivals.

A sum of ₹16 lakh a day was needed to maintain the State zoos. This includes the feeding cost, staff salaries and other expenses. Since reopening, the zoos were getting less than 1,000 visitors a day earning collective revenue of ₹1 lakh, creating a shortfall of ₹14 lakh a day.

ZAK Member Secretary and APCCF B.P. Ravi said the zoos managed to sustain themselves on reserve funds available in Mysuru and Bannerghatta zoos and the donations raised in the form of animal adoptions during the lockdown. “The situation appears very uncertain and we don’t know when our zoos will get the visitors like they used to earlier.”

During the lockdown, the Mysuru zoo alone raised ₹3.13 crore through extensive adoption of animals and birds. Last year, the zoo had raised ₹50.34 lakh.

The Bannerghatta Biological Park (BPP) managed to generate contributions to the tune of ₹21.41 lakh amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Last year, a sum of ₹7.02 lakh was collected.

Some zoos also received donations for the first time since their inception. They include Gadag zoo (₹95,000), Belagavi zoo (₹49,000) and Chitradurga zoo (Rs 1.28 lakh).

The newly-opened Hampi zoo, which mobilised ₹1 lakh through animal adoptions last year, received a contribution of ₹10 lakh during lockdown.

A sum of ₹3.50 crore was mobilised from the public and corporate companies. “This is an extraordinary response to an unprecedented situation caused by the pandemic,” Mr. Ravi felt.

He added: “Until the situation becomes normal, we want more animal lovers and companies to contribute generously to help sustain the zoos. To help the public reach the zoos effortlessly, the app with multiple features has been proposed. It will make animal adoption simple.”

In the zoos, certain incomplete works are in need of funds and interested companies can come forward to bear the cost like how Infosys did in one of the zoos under the CSR component, he added.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 9:33:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/state-zoos-grapple-to-sustain-themselves-amidst-covid-19-crisis/article31946859.ece

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