Arignar Anna Zoological Park
The Vandalur Zoo, founded in 1855, is India's first public zoo. Also called Arignar Anna Zoological Park, it is hailed as the largest zoo in the country, spilling across an area of 603ha/1490 acres. Built on the lines of an open zoo concept, the park has 80 island-type enclosures for captive species in a free-ranging environment surrounded by wet and dry moats, chain-link fences and camouflaged walls. In 200l, a rescue and rehabilitation centre was created for confiscated and abandoned animals. Easily one of the country's most visited zoos; it has clocked up a record 57,000 visitors on a single day! There are more than 170 species of mammals, birds and reptiles, several primates and endangered species including the lion-tailed macaque, Bengal tiger and Muscovy duck. Most of the animals are found along the 2.5km arterial circuit while smaller mammals are located along the three inner roads. The keys attractions are the Lion Safari across a gently sloping terrain, the snake-shaped Reptile house, the Butterfly House and the expansive Otteri Lake, which is an ideal roost for migratory water birds. An elephant safari was introduced in 2008 and allows visitors to tour the park in the morning (9.30 to 11.00 am) or in the evening (4 to 5pm).
The zoo also has a well-stocked library of wildlife books and 24hr medical care facilities available for rescued, wounded or sick animals. Visitors can replenish themselves at the restaurant, ice-cream parlor and soft drinks counter at the entrance. Battery operated vehicles are available for rides throughout the park.
Arignar Anna Zoological Park is about 31km from Chennai on the Grand Southern Trunk Road, 6km after Tambaram. GST Road, Vandalur, Chennai 600048. Open Wed-Mon 9am to 5pm. Guided Tours: lion safari & zoo safari, elephant safari is organized. Phone: 044-22750741/22751089/23766089.