Zoos might not be the most fancied of travel destinations on the face of the planet but they still can be really interesting places to explore. With their wide encompassment of exotic flora, rare wildlife, rich biodiversity and sprawling areas, zoos and zoological parks are of great importance to nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers. Here’s listing 12 of the largest zoos in India that is home to countless number of animals-
Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park
The largest zoological park not just in India but also in the whole of Asia, the Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park is located in Andhra Pradesh. Named after “Sri Venkateswara” the Lord of Seven Hills in Tirupati, the zoo has been developed as a modern concept that however dwell in the rather unique theme of mythology. An expanse of 1254 hectares characteristic this largest of all zoos in India that is home to some 75 species of wildlife.
Arignar Anna Zoological Park (Vandalur Zoo)
The largest zoo in India happens to be the Arignar Anna Zoological Park located in Chennai. Also known as the Vandalur Zoo, its sprawling 602 hectares confines houses about 1500 types of fauna that includes a host of endangered and rare species. The first and oldest public zoo in India that has been in existence since 1855, the Arignar Anna Park with its rich wildlife asset attracts tourists from all across the country and also the world.
Nandankanan Zoological Park
Nandankanan Zoological Park literally meaning ‘The Garden of Heaven’ is the second biggest zoo in India and is situated in the Indian state of Odisha. The first zoo in India to join the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) in 2009, Nandankanan is spread over a 437 hectare area and has been in existence for almost six decades now, housing some 1600 species of wildlife. Also housing the state’s largest Orchid House and numerous aquaria, the Nandankanana Zoological Park attracts lakhs of tourists every year with its rich diversity of both flora and fauna.
Indira Gandhi Zoological Park
Named after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the namesake zoological park in Andhra Pradesh stakes claim to be the third largest zoo in India. Covering some 253 hectares of land somewhere around the biodiversically rich Eastern Ghats, the park is actually nestled within the Kambalakonda Reserve Forest of the state and houses some 80 different species of wildlife.
Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden
The Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden is the largest zoo located in the north eastern region of India, spread across some 175 hectares of land within the Hengrabari Reserved Forest at Guwahati in Assam. In existence since 1957, the zoo was expanded to also include a botanical garden and a museum in 1982 which now houses some 53 species of wildlife. Also considered to be the green lungs of the city of Guwahati, the zoo is marked by the presence of a vast expanse of greenery as much it is distinguished by its diverse amalgamation of flora and fauna.
Nehru Zoological Park (Hyderabad Zoo or Zoo Park)
Named after the first Prime Minister of independent India Jawaharlal Nehru, the Hyderabad Zoo is also one of the largest in the country. An expanse of about 153 hectares make up this zoo park in Hyderabad which is one of the most visited places in Hyderabad. With about 1100 animals that make up some 100 of the species it houses, the Nehru Zoological Park’s locational proximity with the Mir Alam tank also makes it quite a haven for migratory and exotic birds thereby furthering its appeal among tourists and nature enthusiasts alike.
Sakkarbaug Zoological Park
The second oldest zoo of India and also one of the largest in the country, the Sakkarbaug Zoological Park covers some 84 hectares of land in the state of Gujarat. In existence since 1863, the Sakkarbaug Zoo became the only zoo in India to hold African cheetahs in 2009 when it traded three of its lions with a Singapore zoo for two pairs of the exotic species. As of now, this zoological park popular for the purebred Asiatic lions also boasts of close to 1500 types of wildlife and also houses a national history museum.
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (Darjeeling Zoo)
The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park is the largest high altitude zoo that sits at an elevation of some 7000 feet in the picturesque hill station of Darjeeling. Also called the Darjeeling Zoo, this 27 hectares large wildlife haven was opened in 1958 and is most famous for the many red pandas it houses. The zoo is named after Indian freedom fighter and politician Padmaja Naidu is distinguished in being a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Some 156 types of animals inhabit the zoo that which also includes endangered species like snow leopards, Siberian tigers, gorals, exotic birds like rose ring parakeets and hill mynas apart from the pandas. Captive breeding programs for the snow leopard, the critically endangered Himalayan wolf and the red panda have been successfully carried out by authorities at the Darjeeling Zoo.
Kanpur Zoological Park (Allen Forest Zoo)
Located in the city of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, the Kanpur Zoological Park is a 76 hectare zoo and one among the few in the country that is created in a natural forest. Also with an ISO certification for its ‘Environment Management System Standard’, the very verdant confines of the zoo houses some 125 species of wildlife and is therefore a prominent tourist attraction of the state.
National Zoological Park
Located in New Delhi, the National Zoological Park is spread over 71 hectares of land that hosts not just some 130 species of flora and fauna but also boasts of sprawling green expanses. In existence since 1959 as the Delhi Zoo, the biodiversity encompassing area was renamed the National Zoological Park in 1982 and is now part of conservation breeding programmes of the Central Zoo Authority for quite a number of species.
Sanjay Gandhi Jaivik Udyan
A 62 hectares sprawling expanse characterise the Sanjay Gandhi Jaivik Udyan that is also one of the largest zoos in India. The zoo is located in Bihar’s Patna region and is the most frequented picnic spot of the city. Equally abundant in its flora reserve as it is in its fauna, the more than four decades old park has some 300 species of trees and 110 species of wildlife.
Mysore Zoo (Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Garden)
One of the oldest and most popular zoos of the country, the Mysore Zoo is also one among the largest in India. A sprawling 64 hectares of area that houses a wide range of 168 species, the zoo also called Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Garden has been in existence since 1892. Also encompassing the picturesque Karanji Lake, the zoo is as much a verdant haven and houses also the most number of elephants than any other in the country.