After gap of 4 months, Padmaja Naidu & Bengal Safari parks reopen for tourists
Darjeeling: After more than four months, finally the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (Pnhzp) and the Bengal Safari Park in Siliguri opened their gates to visitors on Wednesday.
Owing to the second wave of the pandemic, the Zoo and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) located on the same premises had shut the gates to visitors on May 1 this year. Both, Pnhzp and HMI are major tourist attractions.
There were more than 450 visitors on the first day. Visitors were welcomed with Khadas (traditional scarves) as a goodwill gesture. All Covid protocols were maintained with hand washing points and sanitisers provided free-of-cost at different points, including the entrance. Masks have been made compulsory. Founded in 1958, the PNHZP houses and specialises in the captive breeding of rare and endangered Himalayan species. This includes Red Panda; Snow Leopard; Tibetan Wolf; Himalayan Black Bear; Mishmi Takins; Blue Sheep; Himalayan Tahr; Markhor, Leopard Cat and Himalayan Pheasants.
During peak tourist season, the Pnhzp witnesses around 6,000 footfalls daily. Meanwhile, Bengal Safari Park, also a major attraction in the plains of Siliguri opened up after four months.
"Both tourists and local residents visit the park.
We expect the crowds to be back with the park opening after a gap of 4 months. All Covid protocols are being maintained," stated Badal Debnath, Director.
A dream project of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the park had been inaugurated by her in 2016. The park is spread over 290 hectares. At present, the park has elephants, Royal Bengal tigers, leopards, Barking deer, spotted deer, Sambars, Rhino, six Gharials, a pair of Himalayan Black Bear and birds. It boasts of an herbivore safari, tiger safari, leopard safari, bear safari and elephant safari.