Closure during Eid holidays exacerbates the financial crisis
The Covid-19 virus has disrupted every aspect of life, and the ritual of visiting parks and zoos during the holiday season has been no exception. Cash-strapped parks and zoos in Lahore received a serious financial blow due to the government’s decision to keep the doors shut during Eid holidays.
Even as the Punjab government lifted some restrictions on public transport, citizens had to stay away from parks and zoos during the extended holiday period.
The financial gloom triggered by the spread of the coronavirus has officially spread through the gates of the main zoos in Lahore. Without visitors on Eid, Lahore’s iconic zoo, known for the variety of animals, has lost up to Rs. 10.5 million, during the peak holiday season.
With its doors shut for the public for three months, the facility is also likely to miss its annual revenue generation target. “Each year, the zoo generates Rs. 200 million through ticket sales and other activities,” claimed Lahore Zoo Director Chaudhry Shafqat Ali.
The zoo, Ali said, has lost Rs. 50 million during the shutdown triggered by the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Most public facilities were closed in March 2020 as the contagion took a firm hold in the province, where 21,000 positive cases have surfaced so far.
“The management was expected to generate Rs. 10.5 million during the Eid break,” claimed one official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. That, he said, could not be done due to the closure.
With tempered optimism, Director Chaudhry Shafqat Ali said: “We will restore the glory of the zoo. Human safety is more important for now.”
Economic shocks from the coronavirus outbreak have reverberated throughout the country. Being the second more affected spot, Punjab, is paying a heavy price.
The financial situation at other zoos also appears to be precarious. The Lahore Safari Park facility located along the Raiwind Road has reported financial losses. The Safari Park administration does not have money to pay for the food supplies.
Jallo Park, he said, appears to be in a similar situation. At other locations, including the Gulshane Iqbal Park, and greater Iqbal Park, where the entrance is free, food vendors claim to have lost millions due to a drop in sales.
The public in Lahore was irked by the government’s decision to keep the main outdoor attractions shut during the Eid break.
“I had no option but to stay at home with my children. That was the safest way to celebrate Eid,” said Waleed Ahmed, a resident of Lahore.
Traditionally, during the extended Eid break, families flock to amusement parks and zoos.
In their response to the growing public frustration, officials from the provincial government claimed the attractions were closed to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus. “We have relaxed the restrictions on transport for the convenience of our citizens, but we can not risk large gatherings at parks and zoos,” said Provincial Minister for Wildlife and Fisheries Malik Asad Khokhar.