Lalitpur Metropolitan City hands over Rs 1 million to struggling Central ZooWhile the zoo staff are taking a 50 percent pay cut to feed the animals, the central government has not offered any help.
Lalitpur Metropolitan City has handed over Rs 1 million to Jawalakhel Central Zoo which has been struggling to sustain with no visitors for months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mayor Chiri Babu Maharjan handed over the cheque for Rs 1 million to Dr Chiranjibi Pokharel, project manager of Central Zoo, amid a programme on Thursday.
“This is a thoughtful help from Lalitpur Metropolitan City at this time of difficulty,” said Pokharel.
The zoo has been closed since March 20 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s been eight months, and we haven’t admitted any visitors. It’s uncertain when we will be able to open the zoo for the public,” said Pokharel.
The zoo has a menagerie of 1,064 birds and animals. In normal times, 3,000 to 5,000 people would visit the zoo daily. The zoo officials say the money from ticket sales would be used for the upkeep of the animals and paying staff salary.
“The central zoo would earn around Rs 160 million annually from ticket sales. We haven’t made a single rupee in the past eight months,” said Pokharel.
It takes around Rs 40 million annually just to feed the animals while the remianing earnings from ticket sales are used to treat the animals, repair their enclosures and pay the staff.
Currently, 68 people are working at the zoo. Their salary has been slashed by 50 percent as the zoo has not been making any money.
Pokharel said the monthly expenditure of the zoo stands somewhere between Rs 10 million to Rs 15 million. “To save money to feed the animals, we are working by taking only 50 percent of our monthly salary,” said Pokharel.
The pandemic has left the zoo in dire straits but the central government has not offered any support so far.
“This is the only zoo we have and we must do what we can to support its existence during these trying times,” Mayor Maharjan said. “Earlier, the Lalitpur Metropolitan City had asked the federal government for help, but our request fell on deaf ears.”
The Central Zoo, established as a private zoo in 1932 by Rana prime minister Juddha Shumsher, was brought under the management of Nepal government with the political changes of the 1950s. In 1995 the management of the facility was entrusted to the National Trust for Nature Conservation.