Bannerghatta zoo’s ‘self sustaining’ tag at stake

Published on March 6, 2021 by

Bengaluru’s Bannerghatta Biological Park is facing a cash crunch. The zoo cut down on its development projects.

Bengaluru: Bannerghatta zoo officials said they need at least Rs. 2 crores every month to run their operations. The zoo officials have written letters to several corporate companies to lend a hand through their CSR funds.

Footfall is one of the major revenue generation methods for the zoo. Before the pandemic hit the zoo had 8,000-10,000 visitors on weekends. Zoo authorities said after the unlock phases the number of visitors is slowly increasing. During the three months lockdown, the zoo used up all its savings.

The Executive Director, Vanashree Vipin Singh said, “We postponed all our development work and only focused on animals and the staff.” She also mentioned that no employees were laid off as most of them are tribals.

As an innovative measure, the zoo took help from its employees to cut fodder for the herbivores instead of outsourcing it. The Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK) has requested the government to provide 0.5 percent of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds towards zoos and their welfare. There has been no response from the government’s side so far. “During the lockdown, we did request the government to provide us support for several other activities, we have not received it but we managed, we retained the tag of the self-sufficient zoo,” Vanashree said.

During the lockdown, the park revamped its adoption program where 95 animals were adopted raising close to Rs. 25 lakhs. The officials said that adoption is not a revenue generation measure but for awareness. A few corporates like Toyota Motors, Kumar Organics Products Ltd, Jindal Company have adopted animals in the zoo as goodwill.

CSR consulting agencies which recommend companies to put their CSR funds said that animal welfare is not a priority area right now. Karthik Ravi from Soulace Consulting said, “As of now, we work on education and health initiatives I’m not sure about animal adoption.” Currently, the zoo has 2,721 animals out of which 211 have been adopted last year.

Wildlife experts said that most of these animals are rescued and have become accustomed to human protection and the zoo environment. “These zoo animals cannot be left in the wild once they are captivated, some of them need special care,” said Yashes Swat, an independent wildlife researcher.

Zoo officials hope that once the new financial year starts, corporates will open up their CSR reserves.

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