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 and this park was opened to public by the then Hon. Chief Minister of the state. The special features of this project were setting up of the Lion safari, Bird aviaries, Reptile house, Nocturnal house and mountain cave entrance.
Arignar Anna Zoological Park is situated at Vandalur which is 32 Km away from the metropolitan city of Chennai on the GST Road. On the Eastern side of the road is the zoo over a sprawling area of 602 ha.
Arignar Anna Zoological Park is located on the eastern side of the GST road going from Chennai to South Tamil Nadu near Vandalur. Vandalur is about 8 km from Tambaram and about 33 km from Chennai Central Railway Station. 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 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. It was so planned in early stages that the natural vegetation of the area was to be kept intact except where the enclosures, roads and structures had to be constructed. Further, this entire campus has been protected by construction of compound wall. Therefore, there was absolutely no biotic interference in this area, which has boosted the growth of the vegetation and eventually presented an aesthetic look of a natural forest.
The Zoo maintains a viable population of threatened and endangered species of the Western and the Eastern Ghats. It has many threatened exotic species also. The Zoo plays the role of Species Bank and Gene Bank for a wide variety of flora and fauna. It is an Educational Centre and offers tremendous scope for Eco-awareness and conservation education to the public. It serves as a site for basic and applied research on many aspects like animal behaviour, nutrition, ecology, biology,diseases and contributes significantly in conservation of Bio-diversity. The Zoo has the scientific and technical facilities for propagation and introduction of endangered species to its original habitat.
AAZP is an open zoo built on modern concepts. There are over 75 moated enclosures.
While maintaining high standards of cleanliness, facilities and attractions, pollution free battery operated road trains and safari vans for tourists have been provided.
Nocturnal animals house, Reptile enclosures, Walk through aviaries, Prehistoric animal park, Butterfly house, Zoo school, Insectariums complex, Children's park, Interpretation center, Gardens, Lawns, Rest area. etc. Otteri lake situated within the park premises extending to about 7 ha is the roosting ground for a wide array of aquatic migratory birds like the open billed stork, painted stork, White ibis, Herons, Egrets etc, and it is a bird watchers paradise.
The method of exhibition of animals in the Modern Zoological Park has been evolved in such a way that the animals are exhibited in a near-natural surroundings.The Evolution of exhibition of animals has come through the stages of cage, island enclosures and now to the creation of Safari Parks. By doing so, not only the animals enjoy their environment where they are exhibited, but also it gives a thrilling experience to the visiting public. Moreover they develop some abnormal and some times forget their
natural wild instincts.Many animals will not breed when they are confined to cages. That is why the creation of safari Parks for various animals was started in European countries.
Many modern zoos both in India and abroad started forming Safari Parks as a part of their Zoo. Arignar Anna Zoological Park also included in its massive plan, the creation of Safari Parks for Lion, Gaur and Deer. These parks have been formed on a hilly terrain over an area of 70 ha. (175 acres) and the Lion Safari Park occupies an area of 30 ha. (75 acres). The cost of the creation of this Safari Park is Rs. 23.58 lakhs
Bison Safari and multi species herbivore park are to be added to the safari complex.
AviaryThe aviary section of Arignar Anna Zoological Park has recreated models of Point Calimere and Vedhanthangal bird sanctuaries of Tamil Nadu. These enclosures contain birds species found in these areas.
The latest concept for keeping birds is Walk through aviary. In olden days, the birds were kept in small cages where freedom of movement was very restricted. Sometimes the birds especially larger ones, were kept in large open enclosures.In such cases, their feathers were pruned so as to curtail their flight. Many birds never breed inside a small enclosure when their freedom of movement is restricted. Keeping this in view, the Modern zoological park developed big aviary system.The objectives of Walk Through Aviary are (i) to give more freedom of flight to the birds so as to induce them to breed and (ii) to enable better observation on the birds behaviour by the visitors.
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. Here however, these birds can be seen any time. Many important bird species are brought and housed here in “ Point Calimere Bird Sanctuary Walk Through Aviary”.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.
Point Calimere Sanctuary Birds:
Important birds visiting Point Calimere Sanctuary are Flamingoes, Seagulls, Teals, Storks, Herons, etc. These are seasonal birds sighted only between October and February. Many of these species are brought and housed here. In this flamingoes enjoy "puddle" feeding while in the deeper water the seagulls freely swim and feed.
Terrestrial Birds Walk-through Aviary:
The Terrestrial aviary was opened to public in 1992, but due to maintenance problem, it was closed after a few years.This is now renovated and renamed as “Bio-centre” which houses many species of birds, reptiles, amphibians and butterflies. It covers an area of 7150 m2 and it has minimum of 5 mts and covers 12mts height. This Bio-centre is located on the slope of natural hillock behind the tiger house. The chainlink roof of the aviary is sloping from west to east. A concrete wall of 1 m height is built all round the aviary. The four sides are covered with nylon net. This is probably the largest terrestrial aviary cum multispecies biocentre of such nature in the country.
An educative nature trail has been laid with illustrative signages.This is good natural breeding site for birds and also has tremendous educational value. The moist deciduous habitat of the bio-centre supports about 22 tree species and shrubs.The naturalistic Bio centre has 13 species of birds viz.,Red vented bulbul, Mynahs, Koel, Crow, Pheasants, Peacocks, Partridges, Quails, Blue rock pigeon etc.Many of the fruit bearing trees serve as a
food sources for birds and apart from natural feed, the park management is providing varieties of fruits, greens, vegetables and grains. It has also lot of shrubs and grasses, which support lot of insects and butterflies. This beautiful biological centre may attract more people and it would serve vital role in education and awareness of the visiting public
Vedanthangal Sanctuary Birds:
In the enclosure, tree species like A. nilotica, Bamboo, other Acacias etc. are seen which offer convenient places for birds to rest. Baskets have been provided in this enclosure to facilitate breeding. White Ibis, Painted Stork, Night Heron and Grey Heron breed here.
The art of exhibiting captive populations in the modern zoological park has undergone considerable changes, where the specimens are exhibited in semi natural surroundings.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.
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.
Prehistoric Animal Park:
Life size models of prehistoric animals at the prehistoric animal park reminding of the Jurassic park can be seen here.
World of Nocturnal Animals:
The Nocturnal animal house existing in the zoo, houses six species and has proper aeration and sanitation. The biological rhythm and cycle of the animals has been modified so that they are active during the day time and sleep during the night time.
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.
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.
The invertebrate centre has many interesting species of insects, centipedes and arachnids.
The zoo has recently started a wonderful butterfly house, which attract many species of butterflies like the common mormon, blue tiger, lime butterfly etc.
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.
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.
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
The zoo is open through out the year.
The zoo is closed on Tuesday.
Annually about 6-7 lakhs people visit the zoological park. The peak time is during Pongal and weekend holidays.
Routes from Parrys
Routes from Guindy
Routes from Thirusoolam
Routes from Thambaram
Arignar Anna Zoological Park,
The Chief Conservator of Forests and Director
or the Deputy Director or
the Zoo Education Officer,
Arignar Anna Zoological Park,
Vandalur, Chennai - 600 048.
Phone - 044-22751089,
Fax - 044-22750741
For more information please visit: http://www.aazoopark.gov.in/