London: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today asked leading NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul to adopt Kolkata Zoo and support it in the same way as the London Zoo.
She also deputed a member of her delegation to lead an inspection mission to the London Zoo tomorrow morning to be able to take the proposal forward.
"I would be happy if you were to adopt Kolkata Zoo," Banerjee told Lord Paul, who hosted her over tea at his home here today.
"I would love to. I can send a team from London Zoo once we are able to establish the requirements tomorrow morning," Lord Paul said in response to the chief minister, whom he nicknamed "Choti Didi".
The London-based Caparo Group chairman had stepped in to save the London Zoo from bankruptcy back in 1993 with a 1-million pound donation to fund a new children's zoo section in memory of his late daughter Ambika's love for the place.
"I am from Bengal, I love Bengal and I admire what you have done. Four of my children were born in Kolkata and Kolkata is a very special place to me," Lord Paul said.
"I have followed your career and your determination. I knew about your courage and your achievements but I was struck by your humility when I met you for the first time.
"That makes me, who considers himself a Bengali, very proud of not only you but the whole of Bengal," he told Banerjee.
The informal meeting with Lord and Lady Paul and their daughter Anjali was Banerjee's final engagement in the UK before she made her way to Heathrow airport to take her flight back to Kolkata.
She had earlier decided to cut short her UK visit due to a 48-hour warning over Cyclone Hudhud hitting the Bay of Bengal.
"There are such emergency situations to be faced sometimes so I thought it best to leave. Amit Mitra [West Bengal finance minister] and few other officials will stay behind to complete official meetings," she said.