---My Dream--- Before I write about my dream, I would like to ask you somequestions. What is it that catches the imagination of a child more thananything else in the world? What is the one place every kid likes to go fora picnic? What stories does a mother tell her child at bed time? Whatdoes a child really love watching? What do toys for babies resemble? Akid may like to eat chocolates or play with toys, but nothing gets hisundivided attention like ANIMALS do. Be it a stray cat or a common crow, our childhoods have been filledwith stories, books and toys of animals. Maybe to make us behave, maybeto scare us, maybe to teach us kindness, maybe just to depict love, wehave always been given examples of animals. A picnic to a zoo is everychild’s first dream destination. I have had the same fascinations and awe for animals since my firstvisit (I was 3 years old then!) to ‘Rani Baug’ the zoo in Mumbai. Yet Ivividly remember the huge hippo, the lion’s loud roar and the rhino runningaround in its enclosure. Over the years, books and Animal planet fuelledmy desire to see various animals around the world. As I grew up I visitedthe Mumbai zoo every year, longing for something more. As time passedthe Rani Baug fell into shambles and today it is not even the shadow of itsformer days. This then is my dream: ‘To visit an internationally acclaimed zoo toenjoy it and learn a bit about how to run it.’ I want to see a really great zoo with lots of animals, not only toenjoy it, but also to learn the logistics and operations, so one day I canrun a similar zoo here in India.Why an international zoo? A zoo because... well because dreams have no reason. It has been mydream even before I knew what dreams were. Seeing real live animals hashad a fascination over me. Of course it is a part of the bigger picture ofrunning my very own zoo. I know it will take time and lots of efforts, butit’s worth it. I want the kids in India to have the same fun of seeing these
animals while being in India itself. I believe, though kids read aboutanimals in books, but the effect of seeing them alive is magical. It puts asmile on their faces and a joy in their hearts which is impossible toachieve anywhere else. An international zoo, because frankly no zoo in India captures myimagination the way international zoos do. I have spent my childhoodwatching endless episodes in Animal planet yearning for a chance to visitthese places someday. Also, these zoos have non-indigenous species andhave a better understanding of how best to make them feel at home.There would be lot to learn and pick up. Not to mention the joy of seeing alemur or a platypus, a raptor, say the golden eagle, poison blue frog and somany other creatures.What’s there to learn? A lot of things. Michael Crichton mentions in the ‘Jurassic Park’ thatit is not a cake walk to run a zoo (let alone a prehistoric one!!!). I tend toagree with him. The most basic problems would be building (or should Isay ‘engineering’) animal enclosures for various different species ofanimals from around the world, to learn how to acclimatize these animals,to work out the logistics and handling operations, to learn how to sensitizethe public about animal well being. It’s kind of like a lot of hard work! Butthen, my passion drives me on and that’s what makes it fun!!! Also most of these zoos are self sustaining tourist attractions.That is one more thing to learn from them. If I were to start the zoo, itwould still be a business, and would have to have a sound model to sustainand become better over a period of time.Which zoo would it be? I would like to visit either: • National zoological gardens, South Africa • Singapore zoo, Singapore.The national zoological gardens is one of the zoos which have the largestvariety of animals and travelling to South Africa gives me a chance toexplore ‘animal reserves’ in Africa.
The Singapore zoo is one of the most attractive zoos in the world. It alsohas a marine world and a Bird Park nearby which makes it an excitingdestination to visit.Depending on which zoo officials could give me some time to help me gaininsights I would like to make the choice.What would I do with the money if I got selected? (Budget outline) The money would go in buying the air tickets, and for living andother travelling expenses. This can easily be done within the prescribedbudget. Either of the destinations and a stay can be fitted in the givenbudget.So is money the driving force to run a zoo? For any venture to work for a long period it has to make money tosustain itself. However that is not my driving force. My driving force is the joy and happiness that comes on the face ofany kid, or an adult for that matter, when they are watching animals. My driving force is to build a home for animals in a world whereforest reserves are fast depleting and many species are getting extinct. My driving force is the future generation being able to see animalswhich would maybe be extinct in the wild in the future. My driving force is to give a place for kids to see the animals whichthey only see in books in India. My driving force is creating a place where parents can take theirkids for the experience of a life time. My driving force is my fascination for animals and the feeling ofcontentment in my heart when I would achieve it.