Published on Tuesday, 22 January 2013 19:45
Not much has changed at the Yangon Zoo since it was privatized except ticket prices, which doubled last April, and a sharp decline in the number of visitors, zoo enthusiasts and officials said.
"The government leases out parks and zoos to private companies, but nothing has gone up except admission fees,” a visitor from North Dagon Township said. “The Yangon Zoological Garden has fewer animals than the Nay Pyi Taw Zoo," he added.
An official at the Zoological Garden Department said there had been no expansion or upgrade of the zoo since it was leased to the Htoo Group of Companies in October 2011. "The Htoo Group has not put more animals in the zoo and there is no plan to add more," said the official who asked not to be named.
The conglomerate is owned by Tay Za, a close associate of former Senior General Than Shwe. It has its fingers in almost every industry in the country, from construction and agriculture to transportation, mining and tourism. It also owns Air Bagan and has received licenses to build and operate zoos and wildlife parks near Yangon, the capital and Mandalay.
A Yangon Zoo worker put the number of visitors at about 1,000 day, but said this surged to more than 4,000 on public holidays. The Zoological Department official said it had 68 bird species, 45 mammal species and 18 reptile species.
The 107-year-old zoo opened in 1901 when Myanmar was under British colonial rule. It was built to honour Queen Victoria and funded with public donations.
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