Bhopal: They are not high-profile celebrities, but at least 33 wildlife lovers have adopted animals at the Van Vihar National Park here under their unique guardianship scheme.
It made big news when Indian cricket captain Dhoni and pace bowler Zaheer Khan recently adopted a tiger each in the Mysore Zoo.
The message caught others with similar love for environment and wildlife.
Among these lovers of the wild are those who adopted the animals with their first salary or on their birthdays or marriage anniversaries. There are also those from outside Madhya Pradesh who adopted animals in the Van Vihar park.
It was in January 2009 that Van Vihar launched a scheme for the public to adopt zoo animals and thus help the park provide the best facilities to its animal population. Under the scheme, tiger, lion, panther, bear, crocodile and python among other animals have found new "guardians".
The person or the organisation adopting an animal will only have to bear the expenses of its feeding and upkeep on annual, six monthly or monthly basis.
The name of the person who adopts an animal has been put up in front of its enclosure. During the adoption period, the name and the amount of the contributor are displayed at both the entry gates of Van Vihar.
However, there were no headlines screaming when Abhinita Das Gupta and a few others in Madhya Pradesh first used the scheme and adopted a python.
"While studying law, when I got my first salary from the intern works, I decided to adopt a python. I had adopted it for a month. I could not do it for a second month as someone else had already adopted it," Abhinita told a news agency.
"But, in this short time, the python become my friend and I always visit Van Vihar to meet him," she adds.
For Gulrej Ahmad, the relation with his adopted tigress has become very strong.
He adopted a tigress, Era, Jan 23, 2009, for three months.
"When I was visiting Van Vihar, I saw Era and decided to adopt her. It died later and the news shocked me. I still go there often to visit the cage where Era used to live," Ahmad said.
The couple Pushpendra and Sandhya Jain have been regularly adopting Van Vihar animals for the last three years as part of their wedding anniversary celebration Feb 24.
"That`s part of our celebration. We have adopted a female panther (Katrina), python and bear," says Sandhya.
She says she is also planning to adopt the animals on other occasions like birthday and some other happy occasions.
Anil Kumar, a resident of Kolhapur in Maharashtra, whose in-laws lived in Bhopal, adopted a crocodile on the day his son was born on Feb 25, 2009.
Van Vihar`s scheme has raised the awareness about supporting wildlife. The novelty of the adoption scheme has caught the fancy of animal lovers.
"Since the scheme was launched several people have adopted wildlife animals in Van Vihar. And now as news comes about celebrities doing it, more people would come forward," JS Chouhan, director of the Van Vihar National Park, said
Following are the annual rates of adoption of animals at Van Vihar. A form for adopting animals is available at the director and assistant director`s offices at Van Vihar.
Lion - For adopting a lion, one will have to pay Rs.125,000 annually.
Tiger - Rs.110,000
Leopard - Rs.50,000
Bear - Rs.65,000
Hyena - Rs.30,000
Jackal - Rs.25,000
Alligator - Rs.40,000
Crocodile - Rs.30,000
Python - Rs.6,000
Other snakes - Rs.2,000