ENTEBBE – Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre-UWEC also known as Entebbe Zoo, is set to reopen its doors to tourists after about three months of closure due to Covid-19.
The announcement was made on Tuesday, June 23, by UWEC’s Executive Director, Dr. James Musinguzi, during the unveiling of Zakayo’s statue at the centre.
“As members of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums and Pan African Association of Zoos and Aquariums, we are following the guidelines put for us to reopen that must be in conformity with those of the World Health Organisation and the Ministry of Health,” Dr. Musinguzi said.
He also said that a raft of health measures, including temperature checks prior to entry at the centre are going to be mandatory as they aim to protect not only the animals and staff at the Centre, but the visitors as well.
“When a visitor comes to the Centre, we shall take their temperature with an infrared temperature gun, after which they will be required to sanitise. We are placing handwashing facilities all through the Centre, among other guidelines,” he said.
The conservation education center’s Executive Director, however said that with visitor numbers expected to be down by 70 percent this year due to the chaos brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the re-opening will be a leap of faith as gate collections will help smoothen its operations.
“School groups will be required to book prior to their visit since we need to plan. We are going to carry out the reopening in phases by allowing a particular number of people to enter the zoo at a time, though some of the activities we were carrying out will not be opened at the beginning like animal interactions,” he said.
Africa Tembelea has also learnt that the Center needs up to 15 billion shillings to take care of animals and maintain critical staff.
While appearing before the Parliament committee on National Economy recently, Dr. Musinguzi said, UWEC needs 8.2 billion for operations and 6.6 billion for development in the 2020/2021 financial year.
He revealed that an appeal was made to government following the effects of COVID-19, and 750 million shillings was availed in addition to a fundraising drive that brought in 50 million shillings which has sustained the centre so far.
– UWEC –
Originally founded in the 1950s to accommodate confiscated and injured wildlife and to look after orphan animals confiscated from smugglers, the Centre has grown considerably in recent years.
Over 120 bird species can be watched ranging from the famous African fish eagle, over the Great Blue Turaco to Hammertoes, Giant Kingfisher and even the smallest sun birds.
UWEC is not a zoo in a conventional sense and neither is it a Safari Park but it is a center where wildlife education is combined with leisure. The main aim is to model an ecosystem of Uganda in open range exhibits. Not only can you observe many of the country’s most exciting indigenous species, but comprehensive interactive interpretation and briefings on them are also given.