Central Zoo launches ‘Adopt an Animal’ campaign as it struggles to surviveUnder the programme, anyone can adopt an animal from the zoo and take full responsibility, including its food, nourishment and medication for a year.
The Central Zoo in Jawalakhel, the country’s only zoo, remained shut for nearly 10 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as a result its main source of income, which came from tickets sold to visitors, dried up.
The zoo authorities even struggled to feed animals and pay the salary to staff.
Now, in a bid to keep the zoo afloat, the zoo authorities have come up with a unique campaign named ‘Adopt an Animal’.
The campaign was launched on Thursday, marking the 25th anniversary of the Central Zoo management under the National Trust for Nature Conservation.
Under the year-long programme, anyone can adopt an animal from the zoo and contribute to their feeding, enrichment, nourishment and medication for one full year or adoption period, according to the National Trust for Nature Conservation, which has been entrusted with the responsibility of the zoo management for 30 years.
The zoo has kept all its animals on the adoption list. For taking responsibility for a one-horned rhino, Asian elephant and royal Bengal tiger, one has to pay Rs1.5 million each for a year.
Spread over six hectares, the zoo hosts 1,160 individual animals of 110 species—mammals, birds and reptiles among others. The zoo requires annual expenses of Rs30 million for taking care of these animals.
The zoo has also come up with new guidelines for reopening the facility after months of closure. The zoo authorities placed restrictions on the number of visitors allowed every day and enforced a cap of only 800 visitors inside the zoo at any point in time. Beside prioritising safety protocols of wearing masks, sanitisers and limiting visitors, it has also started online ticketing to avoid crowds at the entrance gate.
The zoo reopened for the general public on December 10 but it has not been able to attract the number of visitors as that of the pre-pandemic time, according to Bishwa Nath Oli, secretary with the Ministry of Forests and Environment.
“The Central Zoo has not been able to sustain on its own for now. The zoo needs more financial support,” he said. “Our ministry has sent a request to the Finance Ministry for releasing funds for the zoo.”
The “Adopt an Animal” campaign was launched on Wednesday with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and his wife Radhika Shakya adopting a one-horned rhino for a year.
“We will feed the adopted rhino for one month from our personal income. I have already decided that I will not be taking my salary as long as there is the Covid-19 pandemic, so the expense will be covered from the pension my wife receives,” said Prime Minister Oli. “For the next 11 months, the government will take care of the adopted rhino. The zoo will be given support so that it can take care of these animals itself after that.”