A recent appeal made by actor Darshan Thoogudeepa on behalf of the Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK) has resulted in zoos across the state now beaming with delight and hope after they were hit by a financial crunch due to the ongoing Covid crisis. The funds raised through donations and adoption of animals in the past week alone have surpassed Rs 1 crore, as per estimates shared by the officials.
ZAK has managed to raise a whopping Rs 1,00,47,900 from June 5 to 10, which is in stark contrast to the Rs 17,96,700 collected from July 29, 2020 to June 4, 2021. The sudden hike amounts to 559 per cent of the same collected across nine months before this year’s World Environment Day.
In a video released on June 5, Thoogudeepa, popularly referred to as ‘Challenging Star’ in the Kannada film industry, had pointed out that the Covid crisis adversely impacted the animal world, similar to how humankind was hit.
“There are about 5,000 animals in nine zoos across the state whose lives are also impacted due to the fall in revenue due to Covid-related crisis and restrictions. People can donate or even adopt an animal in the zoo by signing up to pay for their annual expenses spent towards food and maintenance, apart from paying their caretakers,” the actor urged to his fans and the general public.
Explaining the impact of the same, a senior forest official who wished not to be named in a bid to “not take credit for himself” told The Indian Express that various fans’ groups of the actor were seen to be initiating the drive.
“Soon, it was picked by others and the ‘Zoos of Karnataka’ application was downloaded by nearly 50,000 people in quick succession. While donations worth Rs 43 lakh were made in the first two days itself, it has been growing ever since,” the official said.
He added that the actor’s readiness to shoot the video appeal, to ensure that the script was tweaked to make it more natural, and to acknowledge donors and adopters by thanking them online helped them “come a long way than what was initially expected.”
ಶ್ರೀ ದರ್ಶನ್ ತೂಗುದೀಪರವರು ರಾಜ್ಯದ ಮೃಗಾಲಯಗಳ ಪ್ರಾಣಿಗಳನ್ನು ದತ್ತು ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಳ್ಳುವ ಮತ್ತು ದೇಣಿಗೆ ಮೂಲಕ ಸಹಕರಿಸಬೇಕು ಎಂದು ಮನವಿ ಮಾಡಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಅವರಿಗೆ ಧನ್ಯವಾದಗಳು. @dasadarshan @aranya_kfd @CMofKarnataka @ArvindLBJP @CZA_Delhi @ani_digital @Mysore_Zoo @PIBBengaluru @PTI_News @KarnatakaWorld pic.twitter.com/6k2hk9RMag
— Zoos of Karnataka (@ZKarnataka) June 5, 2021
Among the adopters were fan pages, troll page-admins, and co-stars from the industry, most of whom were thanked individually on social media by Thoogudeepa.
Upendra, another actor from the industry adopted an African elephant at the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens in Mysuru. He then issued a statement that read, “As per challenging star Darshan’s call, we have adopted an African elephant and joined hands with him in his noble cause.”
Further, Forest Minister Arvind Limbavali acknowledged the actor’s contribution towards fuelling the fundraiser with his appeal.
“This has resulted in a record number of animal adoptions and donations towards the zoos. His (Darshan’s) concerns towards the welfare of our zoo animals are highly appreciable,” he said. Limbavalli has also thanked nearly 4000 people who made donations and became adopters to help the zoos and their inmates amid the Covid crisis.
Most zoos in the state are self-sustained and are run majorly using gate revenue (entry tickets), which saw a significant dip due to the Covid-19 situation since March 2020, the ZAK official noted.
“The annual maintenance cost for the zoos together are estimated to be at Rs 60 crore with daily expenditure towards maintenance calculated to be between Rs 15 lakh and Rs 20 lakh,” the official stated.