Indian zoo to start animal adoption scheme for residents

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Darjeeling – If you are one of those animal lovers who always fancied nurturing a fluffy red panda or a ferocious snow leopard and wished to play foster guardians to them, here is your chance at the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park in West Bengal.

To motivate community involvement for animal care, the authorities at the Zoo have evolved a scheme under which local people can adopt one of the zoo inmates and take up expenses for its care.

According to A. K. Jha, Director, Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (PNHZP), this scheme will help the zoo authorities to take care of animals better. It is also hoped to facilitate community involvement whereby animal lovers can pro- actively promote the welfare of endangered animals, which are inmates of this zoo.

“We thought of involving the local community and decided to offer animals for adoption to local public and to the big tea gardens here in Darjeeling. By doing this, there will be some involvement of the communities and people towards the zoo. So we thought of preparing a proposal and got it approved by the concerned government bodies in August 2006,” said A. K. Jha, Director, Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (PNHZP).

The special offer, which is yet to be open for the public, has already found prospective caretakers.

The West Bengal Forest Development Corporation (WBFDC) recently adopted a pair of red pandas at the zoo. All that it cost the WBFDC was an annual donation of rupees 75,000.

The red pandas, one of the endangered species in Schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act, should have a rich vegetarian diet, which mostly consists of leaves and shoots of malingo bamboo. They are also given seasonal fruits like apple and vegetables like carrot apart from milk.

The Zoo authorities tell though the fund they receive from the Centre and the State are sufficient for the maintenance of the animals, the adoption programme will help the zoo authorities to take better care of the endangered species.

“Actually the decision was taken by the Board of West Bengal Reserve Forest Development Corporation in the first meeting. It was decided that we will do sponsorship of the pair of great pandas of Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (PNHZP) and this is related to the conservation of wild life and as well as great pandas. They are the endangered species. So we have sponsored it this year,” said R. R. P. Singh, General Manager, West Bengal Forest Development Corporation.

The animals like to move around and need a big enclosure with a few trees. The adoption scheme will fund these facilities as well as expenses towards regular check-ups.

Animal lovers can even adopt small birds, which do not cost much. From the snow loris to the Himalayan black bear and the leopard cat will be put up for adoption by corporate houses.

The new scheme also allows an individual to visit the zoo regularly. The name of the sponsor and their pets would be prominently displayed at the zoo premises.

Similar programmes have been successfully executed across the world but this is for the first time that such a scheme is being introduced in West Bengal.

The Lucknow and Mysore zoos also have the animal adoption schemes for animal lovers.

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