The eastern and western sides of the Arinagar Anna Zoological Park are bordered by the Hassan and Otteri lakes, respectively. The main entrance of the zoo lies on the eastern side of the Chennai- Trichy Highway, which is also known as the Grand Southern Trunk Road.
The main objectives of the park are ex-situ propagation of critically endangered species to prevent their extinction, wildlife education and interpretation aimed at a wider public appreciation of wildlife, and wildlife research to promote its conservation and management.
History of Arinagar Anna Zoological Park
The history of the Arinagar Anna Zoological Park, which was formerly known as the Madras Zoo, dates back to the year 1855. A year prior to the formation of the zoo, in 1854, Edward Green Balfour, the then director of the Government Central Museum at Madras persuaded the Nawab of the Carnatic to donate his entire animal collection to the museum. Soon after a year later, the museum had over 300 animals, including mammals, birds and reptiles and people were attracted here from all over.
Due to its ever growing animal life, the zoo was later transferred to the Madras Corporation and shifted to the People’s Park in 1861. The municipal zoological garden occupied one end of the 116 acre park and was open free to the public. By 1976, a plan was put forth to maintain the animals in the zoo in good simulated conditions and to achieve that the Tamil Nadu Forest Department set aside 1, 265 acres in the Vandalur Reserve Forest. This was located on the outskirts of the city to build the current zoo.
The work for the Arinagar Anna Zoological Park started in 1979 and the zoo in its new premises was officially opened to public on 24th July, 1985 by the then chief minister of Tamil Nadu, M. G. Ramachandran. In 2001, 228 acres of land next to the park was acquired to build a rescue and rehabilitation centre for confiscated and abandoned wild animals, increasing the park's size to 602 hectares.
Flora and Fauna of Arinagar Anna Zoological Park
With a dry ecosystem that consists of dry deciduous and evergreen scrub forest vegetation of the Eastern Ghats, the Arinagar Anna Zoological Park houses 2,553 species of flora and fauna across 1,265 acres. It is basically a degraded forest consisting of mostly thorny bushes, receiving an average annual rainfall of 1,400 mm and an average annual temperature of 26 degree Celsius.
As of 2012, the park houses around 1,500 wild species, including 46 endangered species, in its 160 enclosures. It also has about 47 species of mammals, 63 species of birds, 31 species of reptiles, 5 species of amphibians, 28 species of fishes, and 10 species of insects. The park has 81 enclosures with a variety of animals like the barking deer, blackbuck, sambar, sangai, nilgai, wolf, tiger, jaguar, hog deer, jackal, hyena, lion, giraffe, camel, otter, llama, elephant, and a number of monkey species such as Nilgiri langur, lion-tailed macaque, baboon, Hanuman langur and leaf-capped langur.
Other than that, there are about 46 endangered animals such as the Nilgiri macaques, as well as other rare species including monitor lizard, chimpanzees, European brown bear, Muscovy duck, giraffe, Bengal tiger, white tiger, lemur, macaque, vulture, and star tortoises. The park is also home to exotic species such as the Australian flightless bird species of emu and cassowary. The Arinagar Anna Zoological Park also contains about 138 plant species, including cashew and eucalyptus.
The Arinagar Anna Zoological Park also offers safaris, sanctuary aviaries and other walk aviaries along with separate enclosures for butterflies, amphibians, reptiles, crocodiles and aquariums for the tourists visiting the park.
Visiting Information on Arinagar Anna Zoological Park
The Vandalur railway station is the nearest from the park at a distance of 4 km and the Chennai International Airport is the closest at a distance of 15 k from the park.