|A Royal Bengal Tiger at Alipore zoo
• Can I sell my Royal Bengal Tiger after adopting it? I have a ready buyer.
• Dear Sir, I have come to know from reliable sources that one of the zebras is expecting. I want to bring home the newborn for my son to play with.
• Please inform me as and when one of the macaws lays eggs. Amar charte dim laagbe (I require four eggs).
Alipore zoo’s adopt-an-animal offer has had prospective foster parents letting their ambitions run wild, not to speak of their imagination.
Every time the office phone rings or an email arrives in the inbox, zoo officials dread the thought of responding to yet another bizarre query or request.
The telephone or email communications are sometimes so ridiculous that they aren’t even funny, according to an official in the team behind the adoption scheme launched early this month.
“The calls and mails haven’t stopped coming since we rolled out the scheme. Heaven knows what an applicant will come up with next,” the official said.
One applicant, a businessman who wishes to adopt a peafowl, is eyeing the bird’s plume while a south Calcutta couple has sought permission to celebrate their son’s seventh birthday in the zoo with some animals as props!
“It would be really nice if some of the animals like the chimpanzee and the elephants can be brought out of their enclosure to join the celebrations for that day,” says the email.
Some seem to have spotted a business opportunity in the adoption scheme.
One gentleman who thinks the zoo is an animal market has already calculated how much profit he stands to make by adopting — and selling — the pride of Bengal.
The zoo is offering each Royal Bengal Tiger for adoption against a fee of Rs 1.5 lakh, but smart cat wants to sell his big cat to a “ready buyer” for Rs 2.5 lakh.
“We are struggling to reason with such applicants,” the exasperated official said. “Many of them think that adopting gives them ownership of the animal. Since such thoughts aren’t restricted to a few, we have decided to draw up watertight contracts before formalising each adoption.”
Around 100 animals divided into seven categories with rates ranging between Rs 10,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh are up for adoption in the first phase. The launch of the scheme at Taj Bengal on August 4 had brought a bevy of celebrities eager to adopt the animals or birds of their choice.
While many of the “stars” on the adoption list have been booked, nothing is final until the adoption contract for each has been signed, sealed and delivered.
Zoo officials said they were being extra careful not to leave any loophole in the contracts regarding the rights and privileges of those paying the adoption fee.
“Applications are being minutely scrutinised. Each adoption will be formalised with a memorandum of association drawn up in consultation with senior officers of the forest department and lawyers. The document would mention the rights of the adopters and the dos and don’ts. They will have to agree to all the clauses before the adoption can be deemed final,” said Kanai Lal Ghosh, director of the zoo.
A clause mentioning penalties for mindless requests might not be out of place.
READ BEFORE YOU ADOPT
• Adopted animals cannot be sold or exchanged
• Individuals, organisations and institutions adopting the animals will not have any right to any part or parts of the animal, offspring of the animals
• The family and friends of the adopter cannot enter the enclosure of the said animal to fiddle, fondle, pamper or be photographed
• A person who has adopted an animal can visit the zoo only once a month to check on it, accompanied by a maximum of three companions against special passes issued by the zoo authorities