Arignar Anna Zoological Park


     The Arignar Anna Zoological Park, also known as the Vandalur Zoo, is located in Vandalur, on GST Road. Vandalur is about 8 km from Tambaram and about 33 km from Chennai Central Railway Station. Founded in 1855, the Arignar Anna Zoological Park was the first public zoo in India. Originally called the Madras Zoo, it was situated in People's Park near Park Town. By 1975, the zoo had expanded and had to be moved out of the city. In 1979, the Tamil Nadu Forest Department set aside 1300 acres (5.2 sqkm) on the outskirts of the city to build the current zoo, which is one of the largest in South Asia.

     One can easily end up walking 10-15 km across the stretch of the park. The battery-operated vehicles are also available for rent. However, there are only 5-7 vehicles. Each vehicle carries approximately 15-20 people. It contains a superb collection of tropical mammals, birds and reptiles amongst others.

History
     Chennai has the distinction of having the first zoo in India, which was started in 1855. The Arignar Anna Zoological Park was established for public viewing in a limited area near Chennai Central Railway station. As the city grew, many animals started getting diseases due to growing urbanization, smoke and sound pollution. Hence a plan was prepared in 1976 to maintain these animals in good simulated condition. According to the plan the Tamilnadu Government gave the project to the State Forest Department to construct the park. According to Government instructions, the Forest Department selected in the Vandalur Reserved Forest, an area of about 510 hectares near Chennai City and started the work in 1979, with an initial amount of Rs. 7.5 crores. Most of the works were completed in 1985.

Vegetation
     The vegetation of the zoological park is dry evergreen forests. The existing vegetation was scrub forests invaded by weeds and gradually due to sustained efforts it has been enriched by planting dry evergreen species. In some places there are some cashew and Eucalyptus trees. About 138 plant species are found in the area.

Walk-through Aviary
     The new Walk through aviary developed here is specially for water birds of Point Calimere Sanctuary. This has a small island (area: 30 M2) with bushy vegetation and a relatively large water spread area (area: 110 M2). The important birds visiting Point Calimere Sanctuary are Flamingoes, Sea Gulls, Teals, Storks, Herons, etc. These are seasonal birds seen only during the season.

     Inside this big aviary, the visitors are allowed to walk through and watch the behaviour of birds. The Flamingoes will enjoy “Puddie” feeding while in the deeper water, the sea gulls will be freely swimming and feeding.The land area is provided with bushes for the teals to breed. The water spread area is lined with thick polythene sheets, above which one layer of brick lining is given. The low cost flooring system arrests seepage of water completely. The blue colour nylon net spread over at the top merges with the blue sky so that the birds inside feel the open sky effect. The construction cost of the Walk Through Aviary is Rs. 7.55 lakhs.

Reptile House
     The twining snake like model reptile house is one of the unique structures in the park where 4 species of poisonous snakes and 10 of non-poisonous snakes were opened to public in the year 1989 for exhibition.The park has initiated controlled breeding programme for Indian rock python.In each vivarium, renovation works like changing substratum, providing perch and hide outs were carried out. The top of the opening in RCC roof was closed with transparent acrylic sheet to avoid rain and also provided walled enclosure to enable the snake to exhibit all natural behaviours.The King cobra is one of the star attractions of this park. This species is scientifically kept and maintained in constant temperature by providing air conditioning and hot spot.

Crocodile Enclosure
     The park houses many species of Crocodiles like the Gharial, the Marsh Crocodile, the Salt Water Crocodile and the American Spectacled Caimans. In each of these enclosures a large pool of water is provided to meet the needs of the Crocodiles for swimming and feeding. Many of the species also breed here.

Primate House
     Arignar Anna Zoological Park has some unique endangered primate species like the Liontailed Macaque, Nilgiri Langur, Capped Langur and Chimpanzee. The park is also the National Stud Book Keeper for the endangered Lionatailed Macaque.

Elephant House
     Elephants need a large amount of food and in the wild they feed for about 16 hours a day. Their diet consist mainly of leaves. The Asian and the African are the two species of elephants.

Butterfly House
     The zoo has recently started a wonderful butterfly house, which attract many species of butterflies like the common mormon, blue tiger, lime butterfly etc.

Amphibian House
     The Arignar Anna Zoological Park stands first in the country for establishing an amphibian house.The following locally available species are exhibited in the Amphibian centre.Indian tree frog(Polypedatus maculatus),Common Indian toad(Bufo melanasticus), Indian Bull frog (Rana tigirina), Indian cricket frog(Limnonectus limnocharis ) and Indian pond frog(Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis).The water recycling system have been introduced to keep the house clean.To add green fresh look, plants have been planted inside each tank.

Flamingo Exhibits
     Related to the geese, Flamingoes live for more than 30 to 40 years. Their strong bent beak is a rather unique tool used for filtering muddy water for small crustaceans, algae and other small particles. In the zoo the flamingoes are fed with a kind of soup containing grain, dried shrimps and minced vegetables. Their pink-red plumage colouration is a result of their feeding on some micro-organisms containing carotene. If this colouring matter is absent from the foodstuff, they will lose their colour.

Small Mammals House
     The newly constructed small mammals house, has animals like the Grizzled Giant Squirrel and the Malayan Giant Squirrel. The zoo also houses many small carnivores and animals of the western Ghats.

Otteri Lake
     The otteri lake situated in side the Arignar Anna Zoological Park, spreads over an extent of 7 hectares.This lake attracts a large number of migratory birds in October, November and December.About 70 species visit this lake. Both terrestrial and aquatic birds congregate here during the season.This lake can be developed in to a water bird sanctuary.At present, this lake is surrounded by a variety of trees

Amenities
-Supply of cool drinking water at many points.
-Catering facility by TTDC and Aavin Ice cream parlour.
-Well maintained toilets at several places.
-Guides and zoo interpretation by zoo club members.
-TV screen at entrance showing wildlife documentary.
-Battery powered vehicles to go around the zoo and to the Lion safari.
-Trolleys for the physically challenged people and children.


Transport
     The zoo is well connected to the city by road and rail. There is direct service from various parts of the city to Vandalur / Arignar Anna Zoological Park bus stop. Also from city all buses going to Guduvancheri pass through Vandalur stop. For coming by local train, train going to chengalpettu stops at Vandalur Railway station which is about 1 km from the zoo gate or you may come by Chennai Beach to Tambaram local train, get down at Tambaram and take a bus to the zoo.

     The zoo has eight battery-operated trains, to take visitors around the zoo and aid them in observing the animals at close quarters, without disturbing them. These vehicles being noise free and pollution free do not pollute the natural environment of the zoo.

Timings
     The zoo is open from 9.00am to 6.00pm all days, except Tuesdays. The zoo is open through out the year. Annually about 6-7 lakhs people visit the zoological park. The peak time is during Pongal and weekend holidays.

Contact Address
Arignar Anna Zoological Par, Vandalur, Chennai - 600 048.
Phone : +91-44-22751089
Fax : +91-44-22750741
Email : aazp@yahoo.com
Website : www.aazoopark.gov.in


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