Started as Rana Prime Minister Juddha Samsher’s private zoo in 1932, Jawalakhel’s Central Zoo has stood the test of time. The zoo came under government ownership after the 1950 political change and its management was overseen by many government departments before it was handed over to the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) in December 1995. The trust management celebrated its silver jubilee this week.
The zoo, spread over six hectares, is now home to over 1,000 animals of 110 different species, including rare and endangered animals. The Central Zoo closed down in March as the Covid-19 lockdown kicked in. It was almost nine months before the zoo reopened to public on December 10. With the reopening and introduction of safety measures, zoo management says they regularly get 800+ visitors on weekdays and 2,700+ visitors on weekends. This is a considerable drop from over 5,000 weekend visitors before the pandemic. With the picnic area and boating closed, the zoo has lost other attractions besides the animals.
The pandemic also took a toll on the zoo management as the 75-strong staff was cut to 56 to reduce expenses.
Current ticket prices are Rs 150 per person for adults, Rs 90 for students and Rs 50 for children aged 4-12. For those from SAARC countries, prices are Rs 350 for adults and Rs 150 for children. For visitors from other countries, it is Rs 750 for adults and Rs 350 for children. Children below four and disabled people do not have to buy tickets.