BHUBANESWAR: The Covid-19 outbreak may have kept animal lovers away from Nandankanan Zoological Park in the City but its 'Adopt an Animal' scheme has brought them closer to its inmates.
Young students who used their pocket money to adopt animals, doctors, conservationists as well as state government PSUs have adopted animals which has not only elated the zoo but also helped its finances.
A year that saw the zoo closed for almost 200 days, at least 112 people have joined the adoption programme after it was tweaked and made flexible.
Nandankanan generates around Rs 15 crore revenue a year to meet its expenses but failed to collect a single penny due to Covid restrictions till it reopened on October 4. However, its adoption programme has now contributed around Rs 21 lakh for animal care.
“The Zoo is undergoing financial stress after remaining closed for more than six months. Now only restricted entry is allowed. It is our responsibility to support its conservation measures,” said 22-year-old Rabinarayan Kar, an MSc (Zoology) student of Centurion University of Technology and Management who spent his pocket money of Rs 1,500 to adopt a spotted deer for three months.
The adoption programme was launched in 2008. However, the number was low. Last year, only nine adoptions were recorded. The process was made online in October 2019.
“We made the process further flexible which allowed all to adopt animal or bird species of choice as cost of adoption came down to as low as Rs 500,” said Director and Additional PCCF (Wildlife) Sashi Paul.
Individuals and organisations are now allowed to adopt inmates even for a period of one month and the process was made available on Nandankanan’s android app. On October 15 alone, at least 12 individuals made adoptions of their choice.
The hassle-free online system has seen 90 per cent adoptions done online. The Zoo has 3,700 animals, birds, reptiles of 158 species and all are open for adoption.
Elephant at Rs 2.5 lakh is the costliest species for adoption for a year. Adoption of a melanistic tiger or African lion costs Rs 1.5 lakh.
A State PSU like Odisha Mining Corporation has adopted 17 animals at a cost of Rs 16 lakh which include two Indian elephants and a melanistic tiger.
“Support for adoption is growing as corporate houses like JSW and MGM Steels have now evinced interest. We are promoting it strongly on social media, among educational institutions and NGOs,” Paul informed.
Zoo educationist Milan Kumar Panda said Nandankanan Zoo has now inspired Indira Gandhi Zoological Park in Visakhapatnam and Alipore Zoo to take up online adoption.