Why Nandankanan Zoological Park Is So Much More Than a Zoo

Nandankanan Zoological Park is a 1080 acre premium zoo established in 1960 in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. Nandankanan has spearheaded many improvements in housing, husbandry and healthcare for animals and has become a budding centre for conservation and education while also becoming the first zoo in India to be a member of the World Association of Zoos (WAZA) in 2009.

Nandankanan is no ordinary zoo – it operates under the theme of conservation and education while serving as an exciting recreational experience. It houses 160 species of animals that includes birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, but, inside the forest, set in a natural environment. Nandankanan is especially known for aiding the natural repopulation of endangered animals by facilitating the breeding of species like Indian Pangolin, Ratel, Gharial and more. Not only do these practices encourage breeding, but also provide a better understanding of healthcare, biology and captive management of these endangered creatures.

Nandankanan Biological Park has also contributed to the publication of 9 books and over 500 research papers on wildlife management and serves as a guide for awareness on conservation of wildlife and nature.

What makes Nandankanan Zoological Park so unique?

  • Nandankanan pioneered the first white tiger safari in India on October 1, 1991. Presently, it offers Lion, Bear and herbivore safaris too.
  • It was the first zoo in India to become a part of the World Association of Zoos and Aquarium (WAZA) which is a global alliance of national federations, regional associations, zoos and aquariums that are dedicated to the conservation and care of animals and habitats.
  • Nandankanan is the first zoo in India where endangered species like Gharials and Ratels were born in captivity and is also a coordinating and participating zoo for conservation and breeding programmes of Indian Pangolins, Tigers, Mouse Deers and Long-billed Vultures.
  • The world’s first melanistic tigers were born and displayed to visitors here in 2014.
  • Nandankanan prides itself as the largest enclosure for Gharials and Hippopotamus in India.
  • Nandankanan saw the birth of White Tigers born from normal-coloured parents and now serves as a host zoo for the same.
  • It is the only zoo in India to have an open-top Leopard enclosure (yikes!).
  • Nandankanan is the second-largest heronry of the state as its wilderness serves as a breeding ground for the Asian Openbill Stork.
  • Kanjia Lake is the main source of water for both Nandankanan as well as the State Botanical Garden and was declared a wetland of national importance in 2006.
  • The most interesting aspect of Nandankanan is that it is a self-sustaining Zoological Park that caters to the dietary needs of its animals themselves with its own fodder farm, live feed rearing centre and slaughterhouse.
  • Nandankanan is a site where individuals can experience the coexistence of ex-situ and in-situ conservation of both wild flora and fauna.
  • Lastly, a little trivia – Nandankanan became the first zoo in the country after which an express train – Puri-New Delhi Express was named – ‘Nandankanan Express’.
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