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'Narayana Murthy to adopt animal at Kolkata zoo'

Kolkata, Aug 2 (IANS) In a major boost to animal conservation, the latest request to adopt an animal at India's oldest zoological park - Kolkata's Alipore Zoo - has come from Infosys chairman N.R. Narayana Murthy, an official said Friday.

As industry magnates stake their claim to adopting animals, the zoo has received a request from none other than the co-founder of Infosys, according to V.K.Yadav, acting director of the Alipore Zoological Gardens.

"We got a request from Narayana Murthy of Infosys to adopt an animal. Besides him, many other industrialists have opted for adoption," Yadav told IANS.

Sanjay Budhia, chairman of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) national committee on exports, has already adopted a one-horned rhino, Yadav confirmed.

In the league of India Inc, Ambuja Group chairman Harsh Neotia is also considering an animal for adoption.

With people rushing to adopt animals, wildlife experts feel the adoption programme if carried out according to proper rules could do wonders for animal conservation.

"It is better if zoos start doing this programme. It is a well-known concept in zoos abroad. By ensuring that the animal can live its life in captivity in a healthy way it immensely benefits conservation efforts," Saswati Sen, state director for World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-India, told IANS.

Established in 1876 and spread over 46 acres in the south of the eastern metropolis, the Alipore Zoological Gardens has kicked-off the "Adopt an animal" scheme for individuals and corporates to augment conservation, spread awareness and yield revenues for the popular tourist attraction.

According to the programme, anyone willing to adopt an animal will have to shell out a specific amount for a year that will go for the upkeep of the chosen animal including its feeding and healthcare needs.

Names of the adoptive individuals will be engraved on a plaque on the animal's enclosure. They will be allowed to capture candid shots of their respective animal wards on film and photographs.

"The only concern is that rules should be followed. The animals should not be allowed to come out of their enclosures.. many people think that they are like pets..but that shouldn't be the case," Sen said.

For elephants, the sponsorship (including adoption and maintenance fee) will set one back by Rs.3-4 lakh while for a tiger it will be between Rs.2.5 lakh and Rs.3 lakh. A giraffe may cost around Rs.1.5 lakh.

The scheme includes benefits like a chance to interact closely with the animal, guided tours and free entry passes.

Most have been setting their sights on the eight Royal Bengal tigers currently in the zoo.