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Bear safari treat for visitors to Nandankanan zoo

- This New Year, watch 25 grizzlies amble about in their natural world at Bhubaneswar park

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 28: Fix a date to visit the Nanadankanan Zoological Park in the state capital as you could see the wild bears in the open. The zoo is set to throw open its bear safari for the public from tomorrow. The safari will be held for the third time in the country after the Hyderabad zoo and Bannerghatta zoo in Bangalore.

Sources in the zoo said that the bear safari had been set up in an area of 4.1 hectares at an estimated cost of Rs 2 crore.

In the first stage there will be as many as eight sloth bears in the safari. There are at present 10 sloth bears in the zoo.

“We are planning to keep about 25 bears inside the safari in the coming days. We have tried our best to give a natural look to the safari by planting a number of trees. Feeding chambers and water containers have been put in place for the comfort of the animals,” said a senior zoo officer.

The zoo authorities had mooted the idea of setting up a bear safari last year.

The safari will be the fourth one in the zoo. The zoo has a lion safari, which was set up in 1984 in 20 hectares. Similarly, the zoo has another white tiger safari since 1991. The zoo also has an herbivore safari. The authorities are expecting a good response from the visitors for the bear safari.

Sources in the zoo said that the ticket cost used to be Rs 40 for visiting all the three safaris for half an hour, but with the addition of the bear safari, the price of tickets will be Rs 50 for a ride of 40 minutes.

“Both the safaris have been able to draw a number of visitors. We are hopeful that the bear safari will add to the glory of the zoo and attract more visitors,” said a senior officer of the zoo.

The visitors are also eagerly waiting for the new bear safari. “I have already visited both the lion and tiger safaris. This will be a new experience to have a close look of the bears,” said Subham Panda, a school kid.

The zoo authorities are expecting a visitor footfall of more than 50,000 on the eve of New Year. On Christmas, 30,785 tourists had visited the zoo, which resulted in a revenue collection of Rs 5.17 lakh from ticket sales.

Nandankanan was the first zoological park in the state, which was established on December 29, 1960, and currently has more than 1,700 animals including mammals, birds and reptiles.

The zoo has the unique distinction of becoming the host zoo for white tigers.