Mumbai: Byculla zoo welcomed two penguin chicks this year
Two penguin chicks were born in the Mumbai-based Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan, popularly known as the Byculla zoo, since May this year, Mayor Kishori Pednekar said on Wednesday. Her statement comes days after a controversy erupted over the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) Rs. 15.26 crore tender floated in August for the upkeep of the penguins in the enclosure at the zoo for three years.
Congress had criticized Shiv Sena over the tender
The Congress had criticized the ruling Shiv Sena over the tender, while the civic body claimed that the birds had helped in increasing the zoo's revenue. The BMC had also said it was trying to bring down the upkeep cost of the penguins' enclosure.
Tender will continue till 2024: Pednekar
Pednekar said that the tender will continue till 2024, and claimed the zoo's income significantly went up after the arrival of penguins in 2016. She said a chick was born to the breeding pair of Humboldt penguins—Molt (male) and Flipper (female)— on August 19, while another pair—Donald (male) and Daisy (female)—gave birth to a male chick named Oreo on May 1.
Zoo currently has seven adult penguins
She also said that the civic body has neither canceled the tender nor revised it. Besides the two chicks, the zoo currently has seven adult penguins- three males and four females. According to the zoo administration, the youngest 25-day-old chick is being looked after by its parents. The chick's sex determination is yet to be done, the zoo authorities said.
One penguin had earlier died due to a bacterial infection
Recently, civic officials said that the penguins were a major tourist attraction before the zoo was shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eight penguins—three males and five females—Donald, Daisy, Popeye, Olive, Flipper, Bubble, Mr. Molt, and Dory, were brought to the Byculla zoo from Coex Aquarium in Seoul in 2016. However, Dory died due to a bacterial infection later.
India's first penguin chick was born in 2018
Notably, Humboldt penguins, once paired remain lifelong partners. The country's first chick of the Humboldt penguins was born at the zoo on August 15, 2018, but it died after a few days. Bringing the flightless birds to the zoo was a pet project of Yuva Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray, who currently heads the tourism ministry in the Maharashtra government.