THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: “It’s the mirage! It’s the mirage! Don’t believe in the water! It’s another trick of the mirrors!” cries the Persian, a character in ‘The Phantom of Opera’, to the hero Raul. They are in a room where mirrors and sounds trick one into believing that one is in a jungle. It is so close to the original that it causes real thirst, real despair.
The City Zoo will offer some of this drama, from Wednesday onwards. Its newly-refurbished exhibit area of snakes simulates the sights and sounds of a jungle. The new design will be inaugurated by Minister for Museums and Zoos P K Jayalakshmi on the day.
B Joseph, Director, Department of Museums and Zoos, explains the vision behind the design. He says that it is aimed to evoke a feeling in the zoo visitors that they are learning about snakes, while walking through a jungle.
The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) encourages all Indian zoological parks to “simulate the conditions of the natural habitats of the animals in the enclosures.” (Guidelines on Minimum Dimensions of Enclosures for Housing Exotic Animals of Different Species) The new enclosure design intends to comply with this expectation.
In the exhibit area, barricades separate visitors from the artificial jungle. The walls bear the painting of a thick dense forest, and the roof, of a blue sky. Life-like models of trees have been planted at various points. Instead of sand, sawdust has been lavishly sprinkled on the floor. Look up, and one sees slender fingers of trees extending over one’s head.
A gurgling stream painted on the wall has been enhanced with real flowing water and the sound effects of rippling water. Jungle sounds will be playing in the background, right through.
Pythons will be the first to move into the new home. Trinket snakes will follow. The green anacondas will not be exhibited at the moment, as their enclosure awaits some more design corrections. The enclosure will be open to the public, after its inauguration, from 4.30 pm on Wednesday.