Summer is the time for day-outings, picnics, long trips, and evenings at the park. This year, however, with the lockdown in place summer plans are out of the window. Madras Crocodile Bank in Chennai, home to many different species of crocodiles, snakes, turtles and more, that was hoping for at least 50,000 visitors to drop by in May, has now turned to the public to help raise funds.
Having missed out on its peak season this year, the reptile zoo estimates missing out on Rs 80 lakh from ticket sales alone. Allwin Jesudasan, Director of the Madras Crocodile Bank shares, â€śWe closed on March 16 and we will not be able to open all through June. Even if the lockdown is lifted, we are not sure if people would come in crowds. Moreover, we do have different species of animals and birds and people may have their apprehensions initially.â€ť
Established in 1976 the Madras Croc Bank is home to over 35 species of reptiles and various species of birds, amphibians, snakes, and lizards.
While its monthly budget has been Rs 20 lakh, spent on food and salaries, the Madras Croc Bank expects this number to go up in the coming months. â€śWe will have to equip with sanitiser and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs). With the lockdown we are increasingly turning to the internet and so we have to upgrade our internet facilities at the premises,â€ť he adds.
Madras Croc Bank manages 50% of its monthly expenses with the amount raised from ticket sales. â€śThis period that we are closed, we have estimated a loss of 1,20,000 visitors and Rs 80 lakh from ticket sales,â€ť Allwin says.
The bank receives an additional 30% from CSR grants, 10% from international funds and another 10% from individual donors. â€śWe also receive funds from international zoos but since they too are closed now, we won't be able to receive help from that end. Moreover we expect the CSR grants too to reduce since companies may be contributing to state and central relief funds,â€ť he adds.
At the croc bank, employees have taken pay cuts to reduce monthly expenditure. â€śThis is only for the office staff,â€ť Allwin adds. The bank has about 39 staff members and this includes the keepers, guards and curators.
In three days since opening their request to raise funds, the croc bank has managed to raise Rs 17 lakh. â€śIt is heartening to see the kind of response we have received. Mr Venu Srinivasan of TVS Group has said that he would match the funds raised up to Rs 10 lakh,â€ť he shares.
Chess grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand too took to Twitter to bring the spotlight on Madras Croc Bankâ€™s fundraiser. â€śIn Chennai all of us have been here as children and over the years taken our children there too. A fervent appeal from the â€śEnormous Crocodileâ€ť friends,â€ť he wrote.
In Chennai all of us have been here as children and over the years taken our children there too. A fervent appeal from the â€ś Enormous Crocodileâ€ť friends(1/2)Madras Crocodile Bank.â€” Viswanathan Anand (@vishy64theking) May 22, 2020
Akhil with GM. Gukesh at Crocodile Bank this yearPlease donate https://t.co/Mnb76enPrX pic.twitter.com/fZ8W2aycji
Stressing that feeding the animals has always been their top priority, Allwin adds that the support they have received so far has been very heartening and hopes for more to tide over the lockdown and its after-effects.
You can contribute to the croc bank here.