Bored of dogs? Adopt a lion
Punjab has offered a chance to its residents to adopt wild animals and birds in major zoos of the state, including Mohindra Chaudhury Zoological Park at Chhatbir, popularly known as the Chhatbir zoo.
Besides the Chhatbir zoo there are three small zoos - in Ludhiana, Bathinda and Patiala - a deer park at Neelon on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh road and an aviary at Patiala.
Punjab's Chief Wildlife Conservator R.K. Loona told IANS: "All these zoos and deer parks are keeping wild animals for education and recreation purposes. We have launched this scheme of adoption Oct 7 under which any individual, trust or organisation can adopt animals or birds from these places."
"We are reeling under a financial crunch as most times the expenditure on the upbringing of these animals crosses our budget. This would be a noble exercise, which gives a rare chance to society to serve these innocent and speechless animals."
Chhatbir zoo is one of the largest zoos in the country. It is spread over 202 hectares in the protected forest of Chhatbir that was once a hunting reserve of the Maharaja of Patiala.
This zoo accommodates around 1,000 wild animals and birds.
The Ludhiana zoo is famous for its tiger safari and is spread over 15 hectares whereas the Patiala zoo is spread over 14 hectares and houses 12 species of deer, primates, crocodiles and a variety of birds.
The Bathinda zoo is located in a notified protected forest area and is spread over 13 hectares.
Talking about the need of adoption, Loona said: "We realised that only preaching is not enough as the present situation demands action. This adoption scheme is a spectacular way to show your support for wildlife conservation.
"By adopting your favourite animal, for a year or a few months, you contribute towards feeding the animal, maintenance of hygiene and cleanliness of the enclosures and towards medical costs."
To motivate people to adopt animals, wildlife authorities are offering a range of privileges.
"The person who has adopted an animal will be invited as a special guest during various celebrations and would be appointed as ex-officio member of the zoo's development society. His name will be suitably displayed on a board and he will be issued free passes for his family and five persons to visit the zoo four times a year," Tushar Kanti, field officer of Chhatbir zoo, told IANS.
"We are getting a good response as we have already got some inquiries from interested people. Adoption of a wild animal is always unique and makes a great gift for festivals, birthdays and anniversaries," Kanti said.
After adoption, the person will have the right to check the diet and living conditions of the animal and can seek an explanation about anything pertaining to the adopted animal from the authorities.
One can adopt an animal either for a whole year or for a few months. Charges vary from Rs.400 to Rs.209,200.
Environmentalists and residents are quite enthusiastic about the move.
"We have planned to adopt two Asian lions for one year at a cost of around Rs.200,000. We should understand that these animals are not only for entertainment," Rohit Ruhella, an environmentalist who is running an NGO, told IANS.