Hundreds of visitors have been crowding the Chittagong zoo during the public holidays after it recently underwent a makeover.
On an area of six acres of land, the lone private zoo at the port city is located at hilly land of Foy’s lake at South-Khulshi.
Last Friday and Saturday, crowds were seen in front of peacock cage as green and blue peacocks enthralled people of all ages. Some people were taking selfies and videos while others were watching the activities of the peacocks.
Near the tiger’s cage, some visitors were trying to wake up the sleeping tiger.
Masuk Raihan, a businessman from Senbag Noakhali, told New Age ‘We have come to visit Chittagong city. The children wanted to visit the zoo.’
‘In the urban environment, the zoo is the only way through which the children can be introduced to wildlife,’ said Nilu Akter, a house from Chittagong’s Sadarghat area, at the zoo. More animals should be brought to the zoo, she added.
A shopkeeper from the area told New Age that earlier, visitors used to visit the zoo by pressing handkerchief on their face due to the smell and dirty vicinity. There was always a lack of animal food, he added.
‘Dilapidated roads, visitors being attacked by animals and stinky environment of the zoo was a staple. As a result the number of visitors gradually decreased. Recently, the zoo has brought in more animals attracting more visitors,’ said zoo officials seeking anonymity.
In 1988, MA Mannan, former Deputy Commissioner of port city, and some other influential people of the city, took the initiative to establish a private zoo at Foy’s lake for the purpose of recreation, education and research on zoo animals. Later, in February 1989, the zoo was opened to visitors. Initially, 4.90 acres of land was allocated by the government, which was later increased to 6 acres.
Zoo officials told New Age at the beginning, the ticket price was Tk 1 per person. The total cost of the zoo and infrastructural development was done with this small amount as there was no government allocation and budget for the zoo.
Initially there were five different species and the total number of animals was 23. At present, nearly 320 animals and birds of 67 different species are available in the zoo.
Usually a committee headed by Deputy Commissioner and an additional district commissioner as the member secretary of the committee run the zoo. On behalf of the committee, an executive magistrate supervises the activities of the zoo.
In June 2014, the then-DC of Chittagong Mejbah Uddin ordered the then-executive magistrate Mohammad Ruhul Amin to supervise Chittagong zoo.
Chittagong Zoo executive committee member secretary, who serves as an assistant commissioner, Ruhul Amin told New Age in January 2015, when I took the charge of member secretary there was nearly Tk 1 lakh 76 thousand in the zoo fund but the expenditure –salary of officers, food cost for animals and other– stood at Tk 9 lakh signifying a fund crisis.
After joining, he modernised office rooms, store rooms to preserve animal food, quarantine room, operation theatre, brought a pair of tigers at a cost of Tk 33 lakh, constructed border wall at a cost of Tk 30 lakh and installed a staircase.
He also expanded the cages for crocodiles, renovated the main gate at a cost of Tk 16 lakh, increased the number of animals, constructed 32,164 sq feet road inside the zoo at a cost of Tk 28 lakh, set up a kids zone, drains, guide wall, bench, toilets and planted trees.
Also, the officers are now drawing salary in government scale. New animals are coming to the zoo by February. The authority collected six zebras at a cost of TK 48 lakh. A total of Tk 60 lakh, generated from ticket sales, was deposited to the bank.
He said ‘we are going to set up a children’s park at the foot of the hill. Later, we have a plan to set up an aviary at the top of the hill without damaging it.’
In December 2017, nearly 91,000 visitors visited this zoo.
Entry fee per person is currently Tk 30.
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