Animal welfare

Conservation and education: Indian zoos working for animal welfare

Dedicated to animals and conservation, zoos around the world have been the focus of sightseers who crowded the enclosures, eagerly waiting to see their favorite creatures up close. India, with some 130 zoos spread across its varied geography, offers ordinary citizens a chance to learn more about the country’s wildlife and conservation programs. The idea of ​​a zoo has transcended its original purpose of mere exhibitionism and entertainment to become an effort based on research and conservation.

A recent report by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) of India declared the Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park in Darjeeling 1st among all zoos in the country, in all categories. Judged on a set of parameters such as content, planning, administration and results of zoo activities, here is the list of top zoos in India and their efforts.

Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (PNHZP), Darjeeling

There is much to celebrate at the PNHZP, which has been recognized as the best zoo in the country. Formerly known as the Himalayan Zoological Park, it was established on August 14, 1958 in Darjeeling as a government joint venture. of India (Department of Science and Technology) and Govt. of West Bengal (Ministry of Education). The largest high altitude zoo in the country, the PNHZP is internationally recognized for its conservation breeding programs for the red panda, snow leopard, Tibetan wolf and other highly endangered animal species of the eastern Himalayas. It is also the first in the country to have successfully released red pandas into the wild. The zoo also organizes educational campaigns with the local population as well as visitors on the importance of the conservation of the Himalayan ecosystem.

Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Chennai

Deer at Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Chennai.  Credit: Shutterstock

Spread over an area of ​​602 hectares, Arignar has been acclaimed for its conservation programs which support the breeding of endangered species on the Western and Eastern Ghats. What makes AAZP unique is a zoological school, opened in 1998, which promotes environmental awareness and offers recreational and educational services. Ranked first among major zoos in India, AAZP also allows for the “adoption” of its animals, and the donation goes directly towards providing the most standardized care for all its animals.

Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Garden, Mysuru

Elephants at Mysuru Zoo.  Credit: Sanga Park /

Former ruler of Mysuru Sri Chamarajendra Wadiyar Bahadur, after whom the zoo is named, established this place in 1907 to educate the people of his state about its diverse wildlife. During his tours of European countries and Africa, the Maharaja used to select and bring back to the zoo animals such as chimpanzees, giraffes, antelopes, primates and bears; even today, this space boasts of a wide variety of species that receive a semblance of their natural habitat. An exclusive 113-acre wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facility also supports a conservation breeding center for Indian Gaur, Dholes, Gray Wolf and Lion Tailed Macaque.

Alipore Zoological Garden, Kolkata

Painted stork in cage at Alipore zoo.  Credit: suprabhat /

When it was established in 1875, the citizens of Kolkata supported the zoo with financial aid as well as donations of animals from their personal collections. The live birth of the rare Sumatran rhinoceros in 1889 gave the zoo a good international reputation. In recent memory, the park is well known for being home to the Aldabra Adwaita giant tortoise which lived for 250 years. Today, this zoological park is home to species such as the Royal Bengal Tiger, Jaguar, Indian Elephant, Hippopotamus, Leopards, and Antelopes, among others.