Mumbaikars brave heat to meet Humboldt Penguin

Day 1 sees tempers rise as visitors allowed inside the enclosure only in batches to avoid overwhelming the penguins

Visitors at the penguin enclosure
Visitors at the penguin enclosure

More than 2,000 people arrived on Saturday morning to finally take a look at the most-talked-about guests at the zoo after the 'Humboldt Penguin Kaksh' was thrown open to the public on Friday evening. The zoo administration had arranged for additional security — six security guards inside the penguins' watch-area and four outside the gates. The boards, both inside and out, clearly announce 'No flash please' in order to avoid trauma to the exotic residents.

Temperatures run high
While the penguins pranced around in the special temperature-controlled enclosure, outside, temperatures ran high. People were seen complaining about lack of facilities as visitors were being allowed inside in batches to avoid overwhelming the birds. Abdul Raffaq, who had come with his family, fought with zoo authorities over their 'bias' towards civic staffers. "BMC employees were showing their passes and entering coolly, while we waited for hours in the blistering heat. They did not make any arrangements," Raffaq said. Jagdish Makwana, too, exchanged a heated words with the authorities. He finally called the zoo director, who allegedly told him, "This will happen, but what can we do?" An angry Makwana said, "They should close down the zoo if they don't know how to manage it."

Visitors, who had to wait long in the hot sun
Visitors, who had to wait long in the hot sun

'It's only Day 1'
Responding to the allegations, director Sanjay Tripathi said, "It was the first day. We will try to improve the facilities. People should understand our situation as well." The doctors monitoring the penguins are positive that the birds are adapting well to being ogled suddenly. Doctor Madhumita Kale said, "So far, it's going well. Each batch of visitors is limited to 30, so this helps the birds accept the change gradually."

Were seen arguing with the security personnel outside the enclosure. Pics/Suresh Karkera
Were seen arguing with the security personnel outside the enclosure. Pics/Suresh Karkera

2,000
Number of visitors who came to see penguins on Day 1

PeopleSpeak
Nabeel Agboatwala
Nabeel Agboatwala'My daughter loved the experience. It's sad that one of them died, but I'm hopeful that the rest are being well looked after'

Santosh Nehulkar
Santosh Nehulkar'Mumbai has never seen something like this. It's such a proud moment for us. My daughter is very happy to see them'

Kirti Patil
Kirti Patil'I love them. They are so delicate. I hope the authorities are taking proper care of them'

'Worth the wait'
Ansh AkhtarSeven-year-old Ansh Akhtar, who is wheelchair bound, had come with his father, Sameer, brother, Ayan, and mother, Isha, from Chembur. "Since the time they arrived in Mumbai, I have been waiting to see them," said Ansh. Sameer said, "It's been worth the wait." The authorities made special arrangements for the child to be taken inside. After watching the penguins, Isha said, "I am happy that something like this has happened in Mumbai."

Speak
'We will have to wait and watch'
Rajesh ChauguleWildlife expert Rajesh Chaugule, who was present to see the birds' reaction to the public, is also studying the general man-animal conflict in the city. He said, "Bringing penguins to the city is not a bad idea, but we have to ensure that they are given adequate care. They are seeing so many kinds of humans and need to be given enough time to process all the information." "They are semi adults so it's the right time for them to see new things and get acquainted with them. For everything else, we will have to wait and watch," he said.

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