Saturday, November 3, 2012

Vandalur Zoo - Infrastructure is world class but people's behavior is still local class

I visited Vandalur Zoo last week with my family. Vandalur Zoo is one of the BEST and well maintained zoological parks that I've seen in the WORLD. Our Tamilnadu government has done a fantastic job of keeping the place clean. I had several interesting experiences and observations during my recent visit and I thought I would share it with others.

(Also read: 15 things that I liked about Vandalur Zoo

We spent the entire day going around the zoo and having fun. In the evening, we visited the children's park in Vandalur Zoo. There were a number of play structures for kids - including swings, monkey bars, sliding structures, horizontal merry-go-rounds, and climbing structures. Kids were having lots of fun. While kids living in USA get access to these kind of structures almost in every street, good public play areas for kids is still not a common thing in India. You can see them only in newly built private communities. Government has been trying best to improve the conditions of existing parks and some of the parks are maintained really well.

While I was admiring the well maintained play structures at Vandalur zoo  I was shocked to see certain things happening inside the park. I saw a number of adults / youngsters playing on the play structures that were meant for kid. when I see someone doing harm to government properties, my adrenalin gushes; my nerves bulge (people who have watched the Tamil movie Ratchagan can understand what I'm talking about).

I made an effort to tell the adults who were using the play structures, to stop using them. Almost everybody listened to me and nobody "protested". However, I did get some interesting responses/remarks from some of them:

  • "I have seen a number of adults using these structures and nobody stopped them at that time. When I start to play on these structures, you are complaining"
  • "If I stop playing on these structures, will the people who are going to come tomorrow won't do the same thing?"
  • "Ask government to build some play structures for adults too"
  • "No kid is using this swing right now and hence, I'm using it"

(Also read: Skywalks in train stations - what are they for?)

Thankfully enough, I didn't get the usual responses that I've gotten in other parks (where I've tried to do the same thing!). They are:

  • "Who are you to ask?!"
  • "I'm also paying tax like you. I have EQUAL RIGHTS"
  • "There is no sign board that says - adults should not use these play structures"
  • "Where is the sign board that says - only kids should use these play structures"

There were a group of youngsters (college students!) who are trying to use the swings. I told them the reasons why adults shouldn't be playing with the play structures:

  • Government has spent lots of money in building this play area. However, they don't allocate enough funds to maintain them. Once broken, it will take a number of weeks and even months for government to fix them
  • We keep complaining that "Government does not create good infrastructure" for us. However, when they do create good infrastructure for us, we don't use them wisely
  • The play structures are meant for kids. They aren't sturdy enough for adults to use. If the swing lasts for a few 1000 swings if a kid uses it, it will last only for a few 100 swings if adults use it
  • It is OUR responsibility to maintain the structures well. Government cannot supervise each and every thing.

(Also read: A ban on spitting in public places - who enforces it?)

In fact, I encouraged all of them to STOP other adults who may be using the structures. The guys nodded their heads and I thought they won't use it again.

A few minutes later, I left the kids play area. I noticed that the youngsters started using the swings immediately after I left.

The first thing that came to my mind was - "Oh! My God?! How am I going to persuade these youngsters". This time, my adrenalin gush brought me anger. I ran to the park and on seeing me coming, the guys got out of the swings. I asked, "Will you follow the instructions only when you are given a SLAP on your face. Didn't I patiently explain to you why we shouldn't be using the swings meant for kids. Can't you understand? I really don't know how I can explain this to you guys. Do let me know if there are better ways by which I can persuade you. See... I cannot police this 24x7. You guys are future citizens of India. You are the Government. If you guys are not taking care of this in a responsible way, who else will do it?". They said, "We are very sorry Sir! We won't do it again".

I'm not sure whether those guys kept the promise or not. But, one thing kept ringing in my ears for the whole evening "You cannot maintain a world class facility if people continue to behave like local class".

I think our government should consider placing "clear sign boards" that warn adults from using kids' play structures. I have seen in other countries, where they have a scale for kids to measure their height. Only if you are within the maximum height limits, you can use the play structures meant for kids. We should consider installing this in places like Vandalur zoo,  Anna Tower Park, and Semmozhi Poonga Park. I have noticed adults/youngsters using the play structures meant for kids in all these places and I have tried my best to stop them. In fact, I complained to the administrative officials in Semmozhi Poong Park and they said "they'll look into it". In the worst case, they should have a watchman there policing the adults who use kids' play structures.

It is so sad to see that our people are not good at maintaining public property well. It will be hard for Government to manage these facilities if citizens do not take ownership. How can you maintain a world class facility if your people continue to behave like local class?

(Also read: A ban on spitting in public places - who enforces it?)


  1. how much for entrance in vandalur zoo

  2. Very affordable costs (Adults: Rs.30 entrance fee, Rs.30 for Lion Safari (optional) and Rs.30 for Battery Car (optional) / Kids: Rs.10 each)

  3. I had great experience in Vandaulur zoo. Very impressed with an affordable (Rs 30/person) electric car which will take you around (if you cant walk or don't want to walk).

    Also the condition of the animals were pretty good.

    Regarding people, I wouldn't be so harsh. Swings are not common in India and when you see one..child in adults wake up and they want to have some fun. Easiest way to fix it is to put a sign board and let only kids through. (not perfect..but again..)

  4. " I think we must educate our kids to follow the signs so they will do it themselves in future. Its hard for to tell the adults. It is waste or adrelin and will cause B on you.

    We must be good enough to watch ourselces, we must be matured enough to follow ourselves. we dont need "should have a watchman there policing the adults who use kids' play structures.


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