Hyderabad: Call it a mystery or simply the invincible charm of a well-endowed animal park, but the Nehru Zoological Park continues to attract visitors by thousands even in this scorching summer heat. Despite there being a host of recreational facilities in the city, such as theme parks, botanical gardens, entertainment and gaming zones, the zoo remains among the most, if not the most, highly visited public spaces in the city and the State. One visit to the zoo will put to rest all conventions of open spaces being sparsely visited in the summers. The scene is that of a long-awaited gala, with the premises teeming with thousands of families in hundreds of bunches comprising women, children and senior citizens. Sometimes, there are even fights over the battery operated vehicles inside, as the current number is unable to handle the influx on weekends and public holidays. The Telangana Forest department has already ordered more vehicles to meet the ever-increasing demand here.
According to zoo data, more than two lakh visitors thronged this animal kingdom in the city in April this year. Even as temperatures in the city soared to a merciless 43 degrees Celsius, nearly 25,000 including more than 6,000 children, visited the zoo in the first week of May. In the year 2016, a total of 28 lakh people had been to Nehru Zoo while the number crossed 30 lakh in 2017. The situation was no different during last two summers either. In April 2017, a total of 1,96,757 visitors walked into the zoo park, while more than 3,45,000 did in May the same year. In April 2016, the footfall stood at 1,56,994 and neared 4.5 lakh the next month.
While families are most commonly seen visiting the zoo, with children of all ages in the tow, school students are also taken in large groups as part of co-curricular outings. The ratio of children and adults among visitors here is approximately 1:3, which is to say that one third or so of all zoo visitors are children. As of now, the majority of families visiting the zoo carry food and fabric sheets inside, enjoying lunch and snack breaks between walking through the myriad lanes here. With Forest officials working on a new integrated food court near the exit side of the park, this ‘picnic culture’ will become another cultural memory lost to the pages of history, as officials are certain about not allowing food outside the food court.
Location, green cover work in favour
Thanks to the extensive green cover and favourable location, temperatures in the zoo park consistently remain well below outside temperatures, Nehru Zoological Park Director S Kukrety says. “Even in the summer, the crowds visit in large numbers. The zoo is located on the lower side of Mir Alam Tank, so the moisture in the air is less here, and the open spaces and lush green cover ensure that the temperatures remain at least 2 degree Celsius to 3 degree Celsius below outside temperature,” he says. And since there is no concretisation in the zoo premises, the heat island effect is also not here, Kukrety points out. “So it is quite pleasant inside the zoo when compared to the urban scene outside,” he adds.