Only deer and birds are popular in the animal adoption scheme of the Mahendra Chaudhary Zoologial Park at Chhatbir. In all, about 100 deer and birds have been adopted since the scheme was launched in 2010.
Deer are generally adopted on astrologers’ advice, ostensibly to ward off the ill-effects of certain planets while the adoption of birds does not cost much, according to Harpal Singh, animal manager of the zoo.
Zoo director Manish Kumar says, “We have been trying to promote the scheme. We have also created the facility of online adoption. We don’t need the money; we want people to connect with nature.”
The website pbforests.gov.in has a link to animal adoption where one can find details like the animals available for adoption and their adoption fee. The payment can be made online, or one can download the adoption form, fill it up and send a demand draft in favour of the MC Zoological Park.
Animals can be adopted for various periods from one month to one year. The adoption fee is linked to the cost of feeding the animal.
At present, 32 animals are available for adoption. These include an Indian lion, Bengal tigers, elephants, hippopotamus, Himalayan black bears, gaur, wild buffalo, crocodile and emu. The most costly animal is the elephant whose adoption fee for a year is over Rs 2.5 lakh, followed by hippopotamus which costs Rs 1.8 lakh a year.
The zoo director says, “We make sure that at each and every event which we organise, we inform the visitors about adoption. Boards have been put up at different places in the zoo, but it is not enough. We are planning to put out print advertisements in the media.”
In 2013, 95 animals were adopted. Of these, 33 were birds, 16 deer, three tigers and three lions of the safari. The Australian cricket players who visited the zoo in May 2013 adopted an emu for a month.
Usually, the costly animals are adopted by multinational firms as a part of their corporate social responsibility programme, or by private schools. Children mostly prefer adopting birds. A dove can be adopted by paying only Rs 371 a year, a pigeon for Rs 400 and a cockateel for Rs 500 a year.