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Penguins get private contractor

Wednesday, September 12, 2018
By Prachi Sonawane

Highway Construction bags contract for three years, BMC to pay around Rs 11.5 cr

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to hire a private contractor to take care of the seven Humboldt penguins and their enclosure at the Byculla zoo.

The proposal for the private contractor to look after the penguins was approved in yesterday's standing committee meeting. The shortlisted contractor, Highway Construction got the contract for the next three years, at a cost of around Rs 11.5 crore, from the BMC. The appointed contractor will be provide technical staff to maintain the life support systems, air conditioning systems of the enclosure, provide good food to the penguins and extra veterinarians to look after them.
The move has been spurred by the death of the a week-old baby Humboldt penguin, born in the zoo on August 15. The penguin died due to liver dysfunction and yolk sac retention. The proposal makes it evident that currently, zoo authorities do not have expert technical staff on board, hence the necessity for a private contractor, said a civic source.

Past history of Highway Construction
On July 26, 2016, BMC had brought in eight penguins – Donald, Daisy, Popeye, Olive, Flipper (oldest female), Bubble, Mr Molt (youngest male) and Dory from South Korea. To create the exhibit that would house the penguins, BMC had awarded a Rs 40-crore contract to Highway Construction Company.

After the death of Dory in October that year, it was revealed that the Highway Construction Company had forged several documents to bag the contract for the penguin project – something the company had no experience in (being primarily a road construction company)

The BMC then forfeited the contractor's security deposits worth for  Rs 1.4 crore as a penalty. It had also expelled the firm from the penguin project because of the controversy and initiated an inquiry, in which the company surprisingly received a clean chit.

Penguin diet
The seven penguins are fed 450 to 500 gm of various sea fish on daily basis and seem to have a preference for Bombay Duck (fish).

Facilities to be provided for penguins

  • Life support systems
  • Adequate air conditioning for the penguin enclosure
  • Good food
  • Extra veterinarians dedicated to look after the penguins
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