Sundarvan Nature Discovery Centre, the city’s only mini-zoo, has been hit by a covid-triggered paucity of funds. It is recognized as a mini-zoo by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and houses birds, mammals and reptiles. It also has an aquarium and a butterfly park amid a thick vegetation of many species of trees.
Established in 1978 by renowned ornithologist Salim Ali, the mini-zoo gets the major part of its revenues from entry tickets and other nature and wildlife awareness programmes. It is located in the Jodhpur Tekra area and is jointly run by the Centre for Environment Education (CEE) and Karmakshetra Educational Foundation. A major portion of the funding came through a central government scheme but was scrapped a few years ago.
“All our activities suffered a major setback due to Covid and so has the revenue collection from entry tickets. To cope with this crisis, we are reaching out to people to make donations. The average monthly expenditure is about Rs 5 lakh for maintenance and security, cleaning staff, electricity, wages, etc. The cost of food for the animals is about Rs 1 lakh per month,” briefed Suresh Nair, senior programme coordinator, CEE.
Through social media and other platforms, authorities are urging people and organizations to contribute even by way of adopting an animal for a month.
“Sundarvan is not at a stage where it is facing imminent closure. But there are financial issues and a fund-raising programme started recently is showing positive results. Assistance is also needed to make it the first-rate facility it should be,” said Kartikeya Sarabhai, founder-director, CEE.
Programmes like ‘green birthday’ celebrations, overnight camping, nature trail walks, bat awareness programs, spider watching, bird watching, tree identification and school visits are also major sources of funds.
Three months ago, the snake park at Sundarvan was refurbished and redesigned as part of a project funded by Wagh Bakri Tea Group’s corporate social responsibility (CSR).