| The charmer: The nine-year-old lioness at Patna Zoo. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
Bihar ke lala Manoj Tiwari has done a Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Zaheer Khan, Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble and Priyanka Chopra.
The Bhojpuri actor and singer has listed his name among the celebrities who have adopted zoo animals.
While Srinath adopted a jaguar, Kumble a giraffe, Zaheer and Dhoni tigers, Tiwari has adopted a lioness, Urwashi, under the Patna zoo’s animal adoption scheme that started on July 20.
“In the past few weeks, I read news stories about a lot of animals dying at the Patna zoo. I decided to do something for them. A few days ago, one of my close friends told me about the animal adoption scheme at the zoo. I immediately contacted the zoo management to enquire about the scheme,” the actor said.
In August, a Royal Bengal Tiger cub died. In the same month, one of the two lion whelps born on August 15 died because it was born weak. In September, two male Royal Bengal Tiger cubs died after slipping into coma because of multiple-organ failure.
Explaining his decision to adopt the nine-year-old lioness, Manoj said: “Protection of wildlife is necessary. Animals are part of the society and we cannot neglect them. The zoo management may not be able to provide all kinds of facilities to the animals because of financial problems. I am just contributing my bit to the Patna zoo.”
Recently, actress Priyanka Chopra adopted a tiger and a lioness in Ranchi. Under the Patna zoo adoption scheme, individuals or families can adopt animals for a duration of six months to a year. Commercial firms can do the same for one to five years. Enclosures can also be adopted for one to three years and the entire zoo for Rs 25,000 a day.
On adopting Urwashi, who eats 10-12kg beef every day, Manoj said: “There are many animals on the verge of extinction and it is our duty to save them. Being a Bihari, I want our state to lead in terms of protecting wildlife.”
Asked about the choice of adopting the big cat, the Bhojpuri actor added: “It is important to save the lioness because she can reproduce. Being an artist, I understand the beauty of the animal. My father used to take me to the zoo when I was in school. I was always fascinated by the animals.”
Patna zoo director Abhay Kumar confirmed Tiwari’s initiative.
“Yes, Manoj Tiwari has adopted the lioness for a year at Rs 1.5 lakh,” he said.
Sources in the zoo management said the formal announcement of the adoption would be made on October 6, when the zoo authorities celebrate Wildlife Week. Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi will be present at the event. Tiwari would hand over the cheque to the zoo management in Modi’s presence.