NTNC successfully launched its 'Adopt an Animal' campaign starting yesterday with the Rt. Hon'ble Prime Minister of Nepal K.P. Sharma Oli, who is also NTNC's Patron, and his spouse Mrs. Radhika Shakya pledging adoption of a one-horned rhinoceros at the Central Zoo. The campaign was taken to mark 25 years of the Central Zoo under the NTNC management and was made to coincide with the occasion of World Wildlife Day.
A special programme organized at the Central Zoo premises saw wide participation including the Minister for Education, Science and Technology Hon. Krishna Gopal Shrestha, the Minister for Forests and Environment (MOFE) Hon. Prem Bahadur Ale, Vice-Chairman of the National Planning Commission (NPC) Prof. Dr. Puspa Raj Kadel and NPC Member Dr. Krishna Prasad Oli, Mayor of Lalitpur Metropolitan City Mr. Chiribabu Maharjan, MOFE Secretary Dr. Bishwa Nath Oli, Ministry of Culture Tourism and Civil Aviation Secretary Mr. Yadav Prasad Koirala and other senior officials and representatives from government ministries and departments, Nepal Army and Nepal Police, conservation and development partners, media persons and wildlife lovers.
To celebrate the first animal adoption from the highest office in the government, a series of undertakings were carried out for the Prime Minister and First Lady. Beginning with the launch of the Central Zoo E-ticketing system, the chief guests took entrance before a band from the Armed Police Force playing the Mangal Dhoon (auspicious music), after which they spent time on elephant feeding. A silver jubilee plaque commemorating NTNC's management of the Central Zoo was then unveiled by the Prime Minister, along with partaking of the flag hoisting and national anthem ceremony. Thereafter, together with the visiting ministers and the mayor, the guests were taken on a guided tour of the zoo where they spent time observing the zoo's animal collection facilities and interacting and learning directly from NTNC's zookeepers and technicians.
Following this, a stage programme awaited the zoo-touring guests from where the Prime Minister and his wife formally made public their decision to adopt a one-horned rhino. Addressing the event, Rt. Hon'ble Prime Minister Oli expressed happiness on the opportunity to see the zoo animals up-close and congratulated NTNC over the Central Zoo's efficient management over the past 25 years in spite of its space limitations. Speaking about "the need for humans to be mindful of other life forms, who have as much right to share the earth and coexist together in harmony with us," he cautioned about the dominance of humans today, and emphasized the need, "especially for every child to understand man's relationship with nature, wildlife, and biological diversity, and its life sustaining ecosystem services." In addition to adopting a rhino, the Prime Minister announced that the government would be donating four electric carts, so that the elderly, pregnant, or disabled would be encouraged to visit the zoo more often.
Addressing the gathering, Minster for Forests and Environment Prem Bahadur Ale reiterated upon the government's efforts being made, where presently a DPR is in the process, to expedite the construction of the Surya Binayak Zoological Garden in Bhaktapur—a 245ha open zoo facility that is being conceptualized to deal with the Central Zoo's present space limitations and establish a more animal-friendly and sustainable ex-situ conservation facility. Here a 14ha wildlife rescue and treatment center is conceived to be operated by NTNC. Together with this he also shared about the government's plans to establish zoo facilities in all seven provinces, and noted that the NTNC-Central Zoo's technical knowhow and expertise in animal management, wildlife rescue and treatment, and conservation education would be important. Mr. Ale also reassured the gathering that his ministry was in the process to make funding arrangements for the zoo to deal with the financial impact from Covid-19, when it was closed to visitors for nine months.
Other speakers at the event included Member of the National Planning Commission Dr. Krishna Prasad Oli and MOFE Secretary Dr. Bishwa Nath Oli, both of whom took to acknowledge NTNC's "critical role even outside the zoo," managing three of the five conservation areas in Nepal's mountains and bringing direct value in all the protected areas in the Tarai lowlands. NTNC's management of the Annapurna Conservation Area, which is today become a global exemplar for community-based conservation, renowned for its rich natural and cultural diversity, and regarded as one of best trekking destinations in the world was shared, advocating "further leadership, innovation and vision for the road ahead." Addressing the event, NTNC's Member Secretary Mr. Sharad Chandra Adhikary thanked the guests for their support, and shared his commitment to continue to strengthen NTNC's response to meeting the country's conservation challenges.
Following the Prime Minister's adoption decision, seven other adoptees made similar support commitments for various animals of their choice, including, the Minister for Forests and Environment, who has adopted an Asian elephant, and a ten-year old Vivan Singh Basnet, the youngest adoptee in the campaign, who has adopted a love bird. Other animals adopted were one Saurus Crane each by Narangs Hospitality Services and Kashtamandap Events, one Red Panda by Continental Trading, a Himalayan Monal (Danphe) by Mega Bank, and a Barn Owl by Laxmi Bank.
Adopt an Animal campaign has been launched to celebrate 25 years of the Central Zoo under the NTNC management. It aims to create an opportunity for interested individuals, groups or organizations to promote a circle of responsibility, inclusiveness and agency towards building a personal relationship with wildlife. The campaign's timing is also important from the perspective of the COVID-19 financial impact on the zoo management, given that it was completely closed to visitors for nine full months last year. By adopting an animal of your choice, you are pledging support to meeting its diet and health needs, enclosure management and enrichment facilities, and other zookeeping and specialized services for one year. Adopt an Animal. Share your care. Because your decision matters!