This story is from January 5, 2009

Four diesel-run vehicles on rails for Vandalur

CHENNAI: The Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Vandalur, will run four diesel-operated vehicles on rails for visitors to the lion safari in the park from January 14. This will be in addition to the five battery-operated vehicles for the lion safaris.
"This is good news. The new vehicles will be a boon to senior citizens like us," said B Malhota, a businessman from Gujarat who is presently visiting tourist and pilgrim places in South India along with his family.
Works on laying the rails is expected to be completed in 2-3 days. Then, there will be a trial run before the official launch. Initially, these vehicles will be part of the fleet for the lion safari. Later, they could be used to go round the zoo.
The new vehicles have more seating capacity each can accomodate 25 persons including the driver. The battery-operated vehicles can only carry 12 including the driver. The fee will be the same Rs 20 for an adult and Rs 10 for a child. However, these vehicles are less environmental-friendly than the battery-operated ones.
However, zoo authorities opted for these vehicles, not by choice, but because of frequent power-cuts. Officials are finding it difficult to re-charge the batteries. They are also finding it tough to maintain a certain temperature for a few rare species. Recently, a rare Indian cobra died because of the frequent changes in the temperature of its air-conditioned glass enclosure. "It has been very difficult for us to recharge the batteries as there is a severe power shortage. So, we opted for the diesel-run vehicles," zoo director and chief conservator of forests P L Ananthasamy told TOI.

The 1,300-acre zoo, about 31 km from the city, houses hundreds of deer species such as barking deer, sambar, blackbuck, nilgai, sangai, hog and spotted deer. About 500 deer species along with an equal number of jackals roam in the free range zone while around 30 deer are in the enclosures. The park also has elephant and deer safaris.
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