KATHMANDU, Nepal－Charmed by its cute little fluffy face, 14-year-old Nepali Raunak Byanjankar adopted a mona monkey from the Central Zoo in Kathmandu on Sunday. He became the youngest participant in the zoo’s “Adopt an Animal” campaign.
“When he heard about the adoption, he started Googling about the animals available on the zoo’s website and instantaneously decided to adopt a mona monkey,” said Ramita Byanjankar, the boy’s mother who is working as a conservation educator.
Though the capital city Kathmandu has been battered twice by the pandemic, the Central Zoo, which is situated near the city center, has been continuing with its rescue, rehabilitation, conservation and veterinarian services.
“To make sure that all animals are cared for with the same dedication amid the COVID-19 chaos, we have kept all infrastructural development, renovations and programs on hold,” said Lina Chalise, the zoo’s conservation education and information officer.
However, Nepal’s oldest zoo saw its revenues shrink to 80 million Nepalese rupees ($686,460) last year from past annual incomes of more than 140 million rupees, as it has remained closed for ten months.
The zoo launched the yearlong “Adopt an Animal” campaign on its 25th anniversary, which fell on March 3. The campaign was inaugurated by former Nepali prime minister Khadga Prasad Oli and his wife Radhika Shakya, and the couple adopted a horned rhinoceros named Biru for one year.
Recently, Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana selected a pair of tigers named Jagati and Pratab.
The campaign aims to include people from different walks of life, including politicians, celebrities and the general public.
Ramita Byanjankar, the 44-year-old mother of Raunak, was so fascinated by the campaign that she went on advocating it in her circle and ended up having five animals adopted by her family.
Now, her family is “showing off their adopted animals on social media platforms and asking their friends to adopt their favorite animals”.
Around 50 people have already adopted different animals from the Central Zoo. The zoo requires an annual expense of about 30 million rupees to take care of more than 1,100 animals in its 6-hectare premises.
The adopters can gift an animal to their friends, parents, children or relatives. Currently, the adoption is limited to Nepali nationals, but the zoo is working to introduce an electronic payment system so that foreigners can join the campaign.
Chalise said foreigners can adopt animals of their choice in the next two weeks. The adopters will also see their names listed on a “Wall of Adoption” to be built after the campaign ends, along with certificates, acknowledgment letters and memberships enabling them to visit the zoo without paying entrance fees for a year.