Hello and welcome readers. I hope everyone is doing well and healthy as we all know about the rising cases of COVID-19 again around the world. Since the spirit of the fleeting year and preparations to welcome the new one is on high horses, I wish to share one of my recent experiences with you all. I hope you enjoy it. So here it comes.
For some time, we have been discussing celebrating Christmas this year and many ideas were being pitched at the table. I had to make sure to be available for the Christmas Day night duty in the emergency room of Paras-HEC Hospital, Dhurwa, Ranchi. So, we decided to celebrate the eve of Christmas. My wife had never been to a zoological park and my mother, and I realized that it’s been a very long time visiting the Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park for us too, more than a decade and a half. So the plan was set and our family excursion to the zoo on 24 Dec was signed and sealed.
Ranchi as the city with natural topology and extreme greenery is endowed with one of the marvelous tourist spots, Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park. It is an eventful place situated in the lap of nature. It is spread over the area of 104-hectare land on the excursion of Ranchi. It was established and handed over to public in the year 1994.
We were scheduled to leave by 12 noon but for mysterious reasons (me being sarcastic) we got delayed by an hour. My residence is on the National Highway (NH-33), and the zoo is comparatively nearer to our house than most people living in the city. It took us approximately 45 minutes for our group of four namely Rajanth uncle, my mother, my wife and me to reach the destination.
Upon reaching we realized that it was packed… winter holidays. Everywhere to 300 meters around the main entrance was filled with parked vehicles including school buses and private vehicles. Assuming we will not find a parking spot nearby we drove till the next U-turn and while returning we thought of trying to enter fortunately some of the visitors were leaving making space for us.
Wow! That was my first reaction as I stepped out of my Ciaz and looked around. Although my memory regarding my last visit was a lot hazy, I could definitely state that it never looked like this. I also saw a poster stating we could book zoo entrance tickets online, although while googling I don’t remember any mention of this. When you have a facility why not create awareness for it online too? Other than that, there are posters for the creation of awareness about nature and its conservation. A very appreciable effort by the State. The zookeepers and the guards were managing the parking place quite efficiently. In short, my first impressions were more than what I had expected.
Next, we proceeded towards the ticket counter and believe me it was a long queue. Suddenly a God-sent man came and announced that there is another ticket counter on the other side of the zoo gate which was then functional and naturally I went towards that counter. Soon we had the zoo tickets. While standing in the queue I looked around and realized that the reason for this crowd was that multiple schools had planned their excursion today. It is an appreciable effort made by the schools to instigate curiosity, educate and create awareness about the nature we live in
With Zoo tickets in hand, we entered while we were checked for any one-use plastic items and containers so as to avoid pollution of the park. Awesome effort by the keepers.
As we entered, we saw there were a few options to move around in the zoo. Firstly, and the most obvious one is walking. Secondly, one could get a bicycle and pedal around to their heart’s content. Last, but definitely not least one can hire an electric vehicle (6-seater/ 11-seater/ 16-seater as per requirement) to ride away into the zoo with specific stops near a habitat cluster for visitors to roam and see around. The charge was time-based according to the vehicle booked. This is a great facility introduced by the zoo in view of physically challenged and senior citizens to make it possible for them to tour around the zoo.
We started our zoo tour by going right as guided by the zoo, but since the route is circular it really does not matter which way you start, but we decided to follow the instructions.
As we started to walk our path we were greeted by the birds from their multiple large and small aviaries. We met with Emu, Love birds, Swan, Cocktail, Munia, Spotted dove, Java finch, Black swan, Great white pelican, Kite, Red-breasted Parakeet, Grey Parrot, Rose-ringed Parrot, Ostrich, Peacock and a few others.
There were billboards to educate the visitors about the animals and issues with them.
As we kept walking, we were met with the National animal of our country, the tiger, along with the Royal Bengal tiger. The tigers were pacing up and down as if they had goals set for 10,000 steps (trending these days due to health apps) whereas the Royal Bengal tiger, being from Bengal, was dozing after his afternoon meal (bhaat ghum or rice sleep).
The zoo authorities are asking for adoption of animals, which is a good way to save the cost of the exchequer. Some large corporates like SBI, PNB, CCL have adopted animals
By now my mother had started to feel exhausted by the continuous walking, hence we took the much-needed short break. For a while, my mom had started regretting the decision of walking as there were other provisions (electric vehicle). She is a strong woman who prefers less physical involvement but after a short rest and putting bygones aside, she set her mind to complete the tour walking, obviously with breaks as and when required. Proud of you mom, you made it!
We restarted again and met with a few wild cats. As we kept walking along the path towards the Lion habitat we could hear roars, and on reaching we saw it was by the lioness in the habitat. Even though one knows that the animals could not harm in ideal conditions but the roar when in close range can give goosebumps to anyone hearing it. After some difficulty, we successfully spotted the lion who was very shy and was relaxing next to a tree under its shade.
Continuing on the path we reached the Jheel, the lake which had swans swimming in it along with a few pedal boats parked at its beach. Next to the Jheel was a canteen which was stocking itself but was closed. When asked we came to know that we were 1 day too early to the reopening of the boating facility, the restaurant/canteen and also other facilities like snake house and 3D cinema theatre which we will encounter soon. Well fortunate enough to be able to get water bottles for drinking water or else we would have had to use the common drinking source established next to a toilet almost every 300 m. But due to the surge of COVID-19, we as a family have been skeptical about the usage of common facilities that come in human face contact, for extra precautions. Hence, bottled water. After chilling for a while there we resumed our walk.
We felt that since we crossed the Jheel the spacing between two habitats has increased dramatically or was it my assumption, I am still not very clear about it. Anyways, following the path we met Jackals, Fox, Hyenas and Bears.
Bears were fun to watch as they were lying on their backs and being playful with their surroundings like they were devoid of any worry. After watching them relax we too settled down for a while on a bench near their habitat.
Next, we met the porcupines, and I never knew they were this smelly. They smelled worse than the pigs. We moved ahead towards the Sambhar habitat and saw all the Sambhar standing quietly and looking at us. I was mesmerised and thought that I have finally connected to some animals and that they are all staring at me, but my heart broke when I realised, they were silently eyeballing the keeper who held their food in his hands. We were very fortunate to witness the keeper feeding the animals, as he threw the bundle of hay and green grass into the habitat, and all the Sambhar very calmly walked towards the heap and started munching on them. After watching them having their feed, we started our stroll again.
After watching them we moved ahead and met with Blackbuck, Chital, and Nilgai. Then we took a short break, after which we passed the closed Snake house and 3-D cinema theatre.
On the other side of the path was the Hippopotamus habitat where we found them chilling inside their mud bath. Moving ahead we met the crocodiles basking under the sun near their bath. Followed by that we encountered the Alligators where we found the kids and juveniles brimming with energy and swimming in the water whereas the adults sunbathe just like their distant relatives.
Slowly but steadily, we were nearing the Exit gate and to greet us goodbyes were our distant ancestors the monkeys and the langurs. The langurs were chilling under the shade in their habitat whereas the monkeys had a large open area to play around and have fun as they are supposed to. We took our last break and watched our distant ancestors play and run around for a while, then we finally decided to take the Exit.
After the zoo tour, our legs were crying from fatigue and our stomach from hunger. I bought a few grubs from the hawkers stationed outside the zoo to satiate my immediate hunger. Then we went to R.K. Motel on the National Highway; and we had our supper before returning home. It was a lovely day and we enjoyed ourselves a lot.
Dear readers, please stay safe and follow all the COVID-appropriate behaviour.