Hyderabad: A food park of its own to provide its inmates with healthy and organic food, is the latest achievement of the Nehru Zoological Park. Having large space lying unused, the zoo authorities had attempted a food park in an open area sprawling over eight acres and cultivated various plants and grass to give organic, pesticide-free food to the animals.
According to Zoo Park officials, they have grown sugarcane, leafy vegetables, mulberries, papaya and grass while they are cultivating bananas through vermicomposting. Though the foundation for the food park was laid a few years back, the results have started coming in of late.
Officials said around 25 kilos of leafy vegetables including spinach, peppermint leaves, fenugreek and coriander are fed to the tortoises, rabbits, spotted deer and ostrich to give more nutrition to them.
Zoo Curator N Kshitija said two-third of the grass requirement in the zoo was met by the grass grown in the food park.
“We are also producing around 100 kg of sugarcane here, which reduces the dependency on non-organic food from outside,” she said. On an average, around 1,200 kg to 1,500 kg of grass being grown in the food park is fed to elephants, rhinoceros, hippopotamus and bison. Bananas too are fed to monkeys and other inmates.
Earlier, the Zoo used to call for tenders annually for providing fodder to the inmates. However, it was found that most of the material they received was damaged or cultivated using chemical fertilisers.
More plants planned
Kshitija said that their idea of growing organic fodder had yielded good results. Buoyed by the success of the concept, the zoo was planning to grow more plants such as carrots, beans and cucumber and the cultivation was expected to commence shortly. “In the coming three months, there will be adequate bananas to cater to needs of the inmates and we will no more order them from outside. Over 300 papaya trees are also growing fast and it will be helpful for monkeys and similar species,” she said.
Rs 2 lakh spent on daily feed
Authorities estimate a saving of Rs 1.5 lakh through the food park in the zoo. They said a sum of about Rs 2 lakh was being spent on food for the inmates while water was provided from the RO unit in the zoo.
The zoo also has a fish pond that has been set up on an experimental basis. The fish from the pond will be fed to the birds. Once the plan gets going, more such facilities are planned, officials said.