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Want to adopt a lion? Come to the Alipore Zoo

Updated On - Monday, 26 August 2013

4 August 2013

Tigers, lions, elephants, zebras and macaws are up for ‘grabs’ at the Alipore Zoological Gardens, as the authorities have received an overwhelming response to a scheme for animal adoption, even before its formal launch.

A majority of the animals have already been adopted, senior zoo authorities told The Hindu on Saturday on the eve of the launch.

Seven tigers, two lions, two elephants, a rhinoceros, a jaguar, a chimpanzee, zebras and a number of birds like macaw and peacock have already been adopted, acting director of the zoo Y.K. Yadav said.

According to him, the city’s leading businessmen or corporate houses have adopted most of the animals. Parents have also shown interest in the adoption scheme, planning to present the adoption certificate to their children as a birthday gift.

  “The main objective of having an adoption scheme for animals is to involve people in the management and conservation of the zoo, so that people feel connected to the animals. The zoo is not only a place for entertainment but also for increasing knowledge and awareness about animals,” Mr. Yadav said.

Two more schemes

 In an attempt to cast its net wide and involve more people with the activities of the zoo — particularly those who cannot spend huge sums of money for adopting animals — the authorities have also initiated two other schemes “Friends of the Zoo” and “Zoo Volunteers.”

 “As ‘Friends of the Zoo’, people can get involved by paying small annual fees. For ‘Zoo Volunteers’, one needs to spare some time to participate in the activities of the zoo,” said B.R. Sharma, Member-Secretary of the State’s Zoo Authority.

 The annual fee for adopting one of the ‘Big Five’ is steep. It has been fixed at Rs. 1.5 lakh annually for a lion, a tiger, an elephant, or a rhino.

For jaguars and leopards, the fee is Rs. 50,000.

However, the amount is still way below what is required to maintain the creatures. It costs about Rs. 5 lakh annually to keep a tiger, it was learnt.

Not all up for adoption

The Alipore Zoo has some 1,500 inmates and not all are up for adoption.

Some species like reptiles and marmoset monkeys, whose theft and subsequent rescue in 2009 had created a stir, are out the ambit of the scheme.

  The permission to start an adoption programme was granted by the State Zoo Authority only weeks ago.

Since then the zoo authorities have been flooded by queries about adopting an animal.

‘Overwhelming response’

 “The response has been overwhelming because the concept was novel to the city,” Mr. Sharma said.

So what rights does one buy with this adoption?

Zoo authorities have made it clear to those queuing up that the adopters certainly cannot put a leash around the collar of the animal and take it home. They cannot even enter the enclosure.

They do get some privileges, though.

Like getting to celebrate the birthday of their ‘adopted pet,’ posing with them and publishing the picture.

Entry is free for these ‘foster parents.’

Published by: The Hindu

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