Struggling Central Zoo asks Rs 150 million grant from governmentTo remain afloat during the pandemic, the zoo has already cut down staff numbers and announced pay cuts.
The National Trust for Nature Conservation has requested the government to release Rs 150 million as grant to operate the Central Zoo.
The country's only zoo, which reopened on December 10 last year after remaining closed for nearly nine months due to the coronavirus pandemic, is struggling to stay afloat.
Dr Naresh Subedi, programme manager of the trust, said they have sent a letter to the Ministry of Forest and Environment requesting for the grant.
Although the Lalitpur-based zoo was opened to the public by adopting health protocols, it has not been receiving visitors like it used to in the pre-pandemic days.
“People are still fearful,” Dr Chiranjibi Pokharel, project manager of the zoo, told the Post. “The number of daily visitors have fallen sharply, which has impacted our revenue.”
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the zoo used to receive 3,000-4,000 visitors daily and earn around Rs 160 million annually from ticket sales.
The earning from ticket sales was enough to cover the food and upkeep costs of birds and animals as well as pay the staff salary.
“With hardly 800 people visiting the zoo these days, we don’t have the wherewithal to look after the animals,” Pokharel said.
Subedi, of the National Trust for Nature Conservation, also said that with the current number of visitors, the zoo will not be able to look after its menagerie of 1,064 birds and animals and pay the staff.
“The zoo needs to make at least Rs 150 million annually to self-sustain. If we were to consider the current number of visitors, the zoo is going to earn only around Rs 30 million from ticket sales,” added Subedi.
Because of the pandemic, the zoo has already reduced its staff numbers from 74 to 54. It has also announced a 50 percent pay cut for some of its staff members.
On December 22 last year, Lalitpur Metropolitan City had handed Rs 1 million to the struggling zoo.
“We could not get grants from foreign donors because they too are under strain because of the pandemic. So we have requested the government for the grant,” said Subedi.
The Central Zoo was established as a private menagerie in 1932 by Rana prime minister Juddha Shumsher. It 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 for the next 30 years.