Nepal’s only zoo crunched by 6-month COVID-19 shutdown
KATHMANDU, Sep 03: With COVID-19 prohibition still in place for most public services, Nepa’s only zoo has faced financial crisis after being shut for nearly six months.
The zoo has not been able to collect revenue from the sales of entry tickets, which is its main source of income, as the place has been shut since the government circulated a notice prohibiting a crowd no more than 25 people in March.
Dr. Chiranjibi Prasad Pokharel, project manager of the Central Zoo said, “There is no source of income for us and it’s hard to find donors as well because the whole world has been affected by the pandemic.”
According to Pokharel, the zoo’s annual revenue was Rs 150 million, which was used for the operation of the facility. “The organization sustained a loss of Rs 50 million in the last fiscal year 2019/20, adding challenges to the operation of zoo,” he added.
The organization quarantined 20 staffers for safe and regular care of animals but started to except some of its core staff to lower the expenses.
“We are barely managing the operation that requires extra effort as the animals are fully dependent on human,” he said, adding that the salary of staffers has been decreased by 50 percent due to the financial crunch.
According to the organization, it has the capacity to store dry food for one and a half months and meat products for one week. “Though there is no problem in the availability and transportation of food for the animals, zoo as a self-sustaining organization is in a difficult position because of the pandemic,” he said.
He claimed that the organization has been maintaining the standard for the animals despite challenges and could only last longer if the government intervenes with financial support.
“We have informed the government about our situation and requested support but to no avail,” he told Xinhua. “We are hopeful of positive response.”
The central zoo in Nepal spread in an area of about 6 hectares, sheltering a total of 1,097 individual mammals, bird, fish, and reptile of 110 species. According to the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), over 1 million visitors come to observe the displays at the central zoo annually.
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