The Telegraph
Tuesday , April 8 , 2014
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Birsa zoo in crore club

Welcome to the club. This is what elite zoos, whose coffers jingle with a crore, will now say to Ormanjhi’s Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park.

Smashing its own past records, the animal planet on the outskirts of capital Ranchi became the first in the state to rake in Rs 1.06 crore in the just concluded fiscal, thanks to a happy footfall of 4.45 lakh. In the 2012-13 financial year, it had witnessed 4.15 lakh visitors and a revenue of Rs 98 lakh.

Riding on small innovations and recreational facilities, the 104-hectare park topped popularity charts this time, said zoo director A.K. Patra. “The revenue is an indication of the park’s growing popularity. It feels great when you see the zoo crossing the magic mark,” he added, releasing the figures on Monday.

Among Birsa zoo’s USPs is captive breeding or ex-situ conservation. In the first quarter of 2013, it witnessed a baby boom. Over a dozen exotic animals, including a bison calf, leopard kittens and a Sambhar calf, were born.

The zoo is, currently, home to over 1,200 animals of 65-70 species. Besides, it also has an exclusive aviary segment. Other crowd magnets are the snake house and audio-visual centre. To draw visitors, the zoo kept its gates open even on Mondays — the normal weekly holiday — in January.

However, visitor count is not the only factor that helped rake in the moolah.

Zoo director Patra said a slew of measures were in play. “People don’t come to see animals alone, the ambience matters too. Birsa zoo offers them an experience of serenity amid wilderness. Hospitality — both for visitors and inmates — has been one of our greatest strengths. Public amenities like eco-friendly vehicles, drinking water kiosks and seating arrangements added to our success,” he maintained.

The zoo authorities also experimented with new ideas and most of them clicked. For instance, open spaces on the premises were developed as picnic spots to attract daytrippers. “During winter, medical conferences and study tours were organised. We are now planning to request schools to hold some of their activities here. While people get closer to nature and animals, the park gets to generate more revenue,” Patra said.

Everything has not been hunky-dory though.

The zoo’s plan of an aquarium and a butterfly park is still stuck in a limbo. Also, the zoo could not manage to get a tiger couple and a giraffe it had planned.

Star parent and Bollywood actor Priyanka Chopra did not renew her association with the zoo either. She had adopted a tigress in 2012 and a lion the year before.

Patra promised the zoo would add a few new feathers this year.

According to an insider, the zoo may get an ostrich pair from Chennai and a male tiger from Itanagar.