How come the Mysuru Zoo is unruffled by the summer heat when the entire city in the grip of a heat wave with soaring temperature?
Visitors to the zoo frequently ask the volunteers and the zoo staff stationed at various points across the 157-acre campus, including the Karanji Lake Nature Park, how the zoo remains cool.
The zoo authorities claim the temperature inside the zoo is usually lesser by two degrees. The reason: rich green cover with the large tree canopy that makes the zoo reasonably cool in summer.
Notably, with most brimming ponds, coolness is often felt by visitors when they walk around the zoo premises, watching the large collection of animals and birds. With ample shade areas and ‘thandi sadaks’, most visitors say touring the large zoo campus is not exhausting.
What makes the zoo rich in water and how come it doesn’t depend on outside water sources like it used to earlier?
The zoo harvests nearly 79 crore litres of rainwater annually. This includes rainwater that goes into Karanji Lake besides three mammoth underground storages on the zoo campus that collect harvested rainwater. The zoo has six borewells and none of them have failed so far. The recharged groundwater helps the zoo draw as much water it needs from the borewells without depending much on supply from the Mysuru City Corporation.
“I don’t know whether the zoo is the largest harvester of rainwater, but the amount of rainwater harvested appears to be one of the highest here. Out of 79 crore litres of water harvested in an area of 157 acres, only 24 crore litres of water is used. The groundwater gets recharged by the harvest, making our borewells a dependable source of water,” said Zoo Executive Director Ajit Kulkarni.
The credit for Mysuru zoo remaining “water-rich” even in the harshest summer goes to senior IFS officer and APCCF, B.P. Ravi, who was the zoo director earlier and now the Member Secretary of Zoo Authority of Karnataka. Mr Ravi came up with a plan to tap rainwater that was going waste and help groundwater recharge.
Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Kulkarni said water availability encouraged the zoo to establish more number of ponds in enclosures when compared to the situation 10-15 years ago. The flood waters from Karanji Lake get stored in these ponds, and also in the pits constructed for storing rainwater. Only surplus flood water from the lake is released into the stormwater drain, he said, adding that a flood management system gets activated during the monsoon.
“Also, we have established a system where water keeps flowing in the moated enclosures of all animals for keeping the area cool. The visitors feel coolness upon entering the zoo.”
Karanji lake, that adjoins the zoo, has been a saviour for the zoo as its overflowing waters in monsoon is channelled to the ponds established inside the zoo. These ponds can store up to 120 million litres of water, which would have otherwise flowed into the stormwater drain. The water in these ponds not only helps groundwater recharge, it also makes the zoo self-sufficient. The flood management system has also stopped flooding of the zoo campus which used to take place when overflowing water entered the drain.