Before India could get their wild animals under control, it was chaotic. The zoos established were poorly managed to say the least, with poor structures and enclosures for the animals. In came the Central Zoo Authority in 1992 and order was restored. The aim of the authority was to uplift India’s zoos standards to international levels by improving the state of their zoos and botanical gardens.
Now, India plays homage to 164 zoos, all of which are WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums) approved. These zoos facilitate India’s rich culture and their passion for exotic wildlife dating back to the years of the founding fathers. India is famed for having some of the biggest and oldest zoos in the world, and they are included on this list of the top 10 biggest zoos in India.
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10. Mysore Zoo
Located near the palace in Mysore, the zoo is one of the oldest and most popular zoos in India. With 168 species and counting, it covers around 157 acres of land. It largely depended on income from the trees it sold to the timber industry in the 90’s, but its rise in popularity has attracted celebrities, organizations and well-wishers.
The zoo’s main purpose includes conservation, education, research, rescue and rehabilitation. The Mysore Zoo is famed for its elephants, a total of ten are currently calling the zoo home, while 24 others have done so at some point in their mortal lives. If you are planning to experience India’s wilderness, visit the Mysore zoo around summer or during the Dasara Festival for a wholesome experience.
9. National Zoological Park
The National Zoological Park Delhi, formerly Delhi Zoo, sits on a 176-acre piece of land near the Old Port in Delhi, India. More than 1350 animals call the zoo home, with a total 130 different species of fauna. Although the zoo has had its fair share of controversies regarding safety f civilians from the dangerous animals, it is one of the most beloved attraction sites in Delhi, dating back to 1951 when it was first inaugurated as a park. Its conservation breeding program helps keep species from extinction, supplying other zoos with offspring for continued conservation efforts.
8. Allen Forest Zoo
Also known as the Kanpur zoo, the Allen Forest zoo sits on a 190-acre conservation area, in Uttar Pradesh, North of India. The government saw it necessary to create a zoo inside the Allen Natural Forest. Located just five minutes from the city center, the forest zoo features ancient evergreen trees, a lake and is also the largest botanical zoo in the whole of Asia.
The zoo is home to rhinos, tigers, fish, dinosaur sculptures, and a night house for nocturnal animals. It is a great place for picnics and nature walks, and a soon to be built toy train. It has been earmarked for creation of natural habitats for ts animals, as part of an elaborate conservation scheme by the Government.
7. Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden
Sitting on a vast 200 acre land in Gujarat, India, the Sakkarbaug is the third largest zoo in the world, and the oldest in India. It is home to over 500 mammals and nearly 600 birds of a variety of species, all enclosed in 100 houses all over the zoo. It is famed for its conservation efforts, being able to provide purebred Asiatic lions to conservation and breeding programs in Asia and some countries all over the world.
It is also the only zoo in India to play host to African Cheetahs which they sought from a zoo in Singapore, trading three lions for two sets of cheetahs.
6. Nehru Zoological Park
The Nehru Zoological Park was opened in 1963, and is still run by the forest department, a unit of the Government of Telangana, India. It covers an estimated 380 acres, and is home to over 100 species of animals and birds. Species living there include lions, tigers, elephants, panthers and lots of birds. The park also features a butterfly park, a tortoise house and a dino park.
The zoo’s special treats include a train ride, safari and feeding sessions during the day. over a thousand animals call the zoo home, and with the aid of the government, well-wishers and conservationists, the zoo remains one of the most popular zoos in India.
5. Assam State Zoo
The Assam State Zoo sits on a 432-acre piece of land North East of India and is the largest in the region. More than 800 animals and birds call the zoo their habitat, in lieu of 113 species of birds and animals sourced from the world over. It was opened to the public in the late 1950’s, with just 53 different types of birds and animals.
The zoo has since grown in both areas of cover and species count. It is now known as the Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden, owing to the addition of a museum and a botanical garden. The Animal Adoption Scheme was launched in 2005 as a fundraising scheme to help maintain the zoo and fund the conservation program.
4. Nandankanan Zoological Park
Sitting on a 600-acre piece of land in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India, the Nandankanan Zoological park is one of the most closely guarded treasures in India. It also has a botanical segment aside the animal park, and was declared a Nandankanan Sanctuary, or the Garden of the Heavens. It receives more than 2 million visitors annually.
It is home to the white tigers, one of the worlds most endangered species. Its 34 aquaria are home to thousands of fresh water fish. Tortoises, lizards, snakes and turtles make up the reptile park. The park has an Adopt an Animal campaign that seeks to raise funds for the running and maintenance of the park, while also supporting their conservation of endangered species program.
3. Alipore Zoological Gardens
The Alipore Zoological Gardens are one of the oldest zoos in India dating back to 1876 and is located in east of Kolkata, in Bengal India, sitting on a 46-acre piece of land. In December 2016 alone, visitors totaled an impressive 81,000 with most of them visiting during the winter season.
The zoo started off as a private menagerie for the then Governor General of India, Richard Wellesley. The species count is not clearly documented but animals such as giraffes, rhinos, Indian elephants, zebras, and birds such as macaw, hornbills, turacos, ostriches and the highly endangered conures species make up the fauna of the zoo.
2. Sanjay Gandhi Botanical and Zoological Garden
This botanical and zoological garden was first established as a botanical garden back in 1969. It is now home to over 800 animals representing 110 species. If you happen to visit the park, animals such as tigers, leopards, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles, elephants, the black bear, the jackal and black bucks await you.
The fauna part of the zoo has more than 300 different species, mostly trees and shrubs, and is also home to 35 different types of fish. It is famed for its conservation efforts, being able to successfully breed endangered rhinos, hippos, alligators and porcupines.
1. Arignar Anna Zoological Park
The first public zoo in India covers over 1490 acres of land that includes a 228-acre rehabilitation and rescue center. It was officially declared the largest zoological park in India, housing over 1500 species of wildlife, and 100 species of plant, trees, bushes and thicket. It is also a haven for 46 endangered species.
It is also an acknowledged sanctuary park, coming second after the Mudumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu. The zoo is popular since visitors will see most of the species in their natural habitats instead of artificial enclosures. The zoo also features a butterfly house, a reptile house, an Amphibian house, a crocodile enclosure, an Aquarium and a primate house.
India has been famed for its conservation efforts, simply put; they know how to take care of their animals. Most of these zoos are favorite destinations for animal lovers in Asia. Celebrities have flocked the zoos with animal adoption programs, and for a good reason. The zoos only need financial support to get the ball rolling. India’s wild life is recognized all over the world, giving Africa a run for their money.