Mumbai: Visitors complain about ice-cream stalls being too close to animal enclosures at Byculla zoo

Updated: Nov 20, 2018, 08:30 IST | Chetna Yerunkar and Rajendra B. Aklekar

It's been over a year since Byculla zoo officials promised to relocate the ice-cream stalls close to animal enclosures to avoid crowding near the beasts, but nothing has been done so far, complain visitors

People crowd at a food kiosk near an animal enclosure inside Byculla zoo
People crowd at a food kiosk near an animal enclosure inside Byculla zoo

Ice cream and animals don't go together, Byculla zoo authorities have known for nearly a year and, yet, done nothing about it. Last year, after the Central Zoo Authority officials visited the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo, local staff had assured them that the ice-cream stalls close to animal enclosures would be relocated to ensure animals are not disturbed.

It's been over a year to that promise and nothing has changed on ground. What's worse, local zoo officials don't even have an alternate spot in mind for the relocation, which seems to suggest it's unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Tempos, youngsters on bikes, and other vehicles have made the tree-lined walkways dangerous
Tempos, youngsters on bikes, and other vehicles have made the tree-lined walkways dangerous

Things fall apart
In a perennial state of disrepair, the zoo and its silent walkways inside have become traffic spots, unsafe for kids to walk around, and ice-cream and popcorn shops deep inside the zoo create more nuisance and generate more garbage than ever, complain visitors.

They add that while signages of animal enclosures, made out of old street signs, are falling off, the revenue-generating penguin enclosure is the only one in order. A shop selling ice cream, popcorn and snacks is located bang opposite the hippopotamus enclosure and is the most crowded and chaotic spot on the premises. To service the shop, tempos ferrying the cold dessert keep going back and forth, making the walkways dangerous for children.

"There was a time when I could allow the kids to walk along the green-lined walkways inside the zoo; but now, they have become dangerous...," said Rakesh Mehra, a citizen who visited after a long time, adding that BMC had spoilt the zoo and its ambience.

Officialspeak
mid-day had reported last year about the CZA asking civic body’s zoo authority why selfie points and ice-cream stalls were permitted inside. Officials from the civic body, however, said the zoo authority wanted to ensure no harm is caused to animals, as there were complains of wrappers and leftovers thrown at them.

Hence, the BMC decided to shift the stall elsewhere within the zoo, said a civic official. Zoo director Dr Sanjay Tripathi said, "The CZA allows food kiosks inside zoos; so we are looking to shift them in a spot not in close proximity to the animal enclosures."

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