(Last Updated on : 22/09/2010)
The term `Zoo` means an institution where several living animals are conserved and exhibited in captivity. The Zoos have a high status as the means of tourist attractions and recreational facilities. Some of the modern zoos also get engaged in captive breeding programmes, conservation study, and educational outreach. Being a vast country with plenty of mammal and other fauna species, India is home to a large number of Zoos, spread all over the country. Some of the Zoos in India have earned recognition and reputation all over the world for their great collection of mammals, reptiles and birds. The main objective of the Zoos in India is to protect the animals in captivity and also to educate the common people about them.
The Zoos in India are also sometimes referred as the zoological gardens. Both the Zoos and wildlife sanctuaries have a common objective of preserving the flora and fauna species in India. However, the main difference between these two is that, the zoos keep animals in captivity and within artificially created habitat, and the sanctuaries provide home to animals in their natural habitat without captivity. The first ever formally established zoo in India is the Alipore Zoological Gardens in Kolkata, West Bengal. The Zoo was officially opened on 1st January, 1876 and it is also considered as the largest Zoo in India, with area coverage of about 100 acres. After that, a large number of zoos have been established in most of the major cities in India, during the first few decades of the twentieth century. India has sixty four large zoos and one hundred and ninety four medium sized zoos.
The Zoos in India are working with a view to educate the public about conservation of biodiversity, besides providing them a family recreational ground. Many zoos in India define their aims as education, research, and conservation, and they also take care of the animals that are incapable of living normal life in the jungles. The severely injured or critically ill animals find a safe protection in these zoos. The Zoos in India are working under supervision of the Central Zoo Authority and are being run and managed by both private and government organisations. However, they were not being run and managed in an organised way for several years. The Government of India has recently issued a set of rules and regulations regarding the foundation and maintenance of a Zoo and the Zoos in India are bound to follow those laws.
The Zoos in India can be divided according to the regions they are located like the Eastern region Zoos, the Western region Zoos, the Central region Zoos, the Northern region Zoos and the Southern region Zoos. The Eastern region is home to some of the most popular Zoos in India like the Alipore Zoological Gardens, the Nandankanan Zoological Park, the Guwahati Zoo or the Assam State Zoo, etc. The Nandankanan is located in the state of Orissa and is considered to be one of the finest zoological gardens in India. The Western region of India also houses a few popular zoos like the Jijamata Udyaan, Mumbai; the Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden, Gujarat; etc. Among the notable Zoos located in the Southern region of India include the Parassinkkadavu Snake Park, Kerala; the Trivandrum Zoo; the Arignar Anna Zoological Park (Vandalur Zoo), Chennai; the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust; etc. The Allen Forest Zoo or better known as Kanpur Zoo is one of the most prominent zoos in the Northern region of India.