It’s official. Rohini the zebra just became a Sinha Roy and Joey the kangaroo a Batliwala.
Alipore zoo has formalised its first lot of animal adoptions by putting up boards outside the enclosures bearing the names of the foster parents along with their chosen ones and the contract period.
Rohini may be blissfully unaware of her newfound status as she chews on a clump of plants in the enclosure next to Babu the chimpanzee’s, but the Sinha Roys are delighted to have a zebra in the family!
Since businessman Sandip Sinha Roy has adopted Rohini as a “gift” for his wife Bonhi, he has also named the zebra after her.
“I thought what better nickname for our adopted daughter than my wife’s name. So we decided that we might as well call her Bonhi,” Sandip, who has also adopted a leopard, told Metro.
The display board mentions “Bonhi” in brackets after Rohini’s name, one of the privileges accorded to those paying for the upkeep of the animals put up for adoption.
They are also entitled to a certificate of adoption each, a money receipt and a special pass for a visit to the zoo once a month along with three family members or guests.
“At least three leopards, two macaws, a zebra, a catfish and a kangaroo have been formally adopted for a year so far. We are in the process of completing the adoption of several other animals,” a zoo official said.
| A board outside the zebra enclosure at Alipore zoo announces the adoption of a female resident named Rohini. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Exporter Nazir Ahmed, who has adopted two leopards, said this was his way of maintaining “an emotional connect” with the city he was born and brought up in. “I was interested in adopting a Royal Bengal Tiger. But I was told that I was way down the waiting list. So I opted for leopards,” Nazir, now based in Agra, said.
Avi Batliwala, a teacher at La Martiniere for Girls, has adopted Joey the kangaroo for her daughter Tanya. “She is very excited. She has seen the kangaroo and finds it very cute,” said Avi, who collected the adoption papers last week.
The two most important criteria for an adoption contract are acceptance of the terms and conditions and transfer of funds to the zoo’s bank account.
“As soon as anyone satisfies these two criteria, we formalise the adoption and put up a board outside the enclosure of the animal that has been picked,” zoo director Kanai Lal Ghosh said.
For Sandip and Bonhi, there had been some “anxious moments” in the first few weeks after the launch of the adopt-an-animal scheme that has attracted as many weirdos as wildlife lovers.
“We had expressed our interest in adopting a zebra but we weren’t sure if we would get one. So we were delighted when the director of the zoo broke the news to us that we were indeed getting a zebra,” Sandip said.
Metro had highlighted some of the bizarre queries and requests from prospective foster parents — from wanting to sell a Royal Bengal Tiger for Rs 2.5 lakh immediately after adopting it for Rs 1.5 lakh to demanding four macaw eggs.
Luckily for the zoo, the cheque issued by a person harbouring the ambition of hosting a party in the zoo has bounced.
“Of the first five cheques we received, one bounced because of ‘insufficient funds’ in the person’s account. This is the same person who had bombarded us with queries about whether he could host a party in the zoo and take an adopted animal home,” a zoo official said.
He wouldn’t say which animal the person aspired to adopt, except that the cheque issued by him was for Rs 50,000.
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.