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Bangalore India
Still a pretty decent zoo!
Dec 28, 2017 06:28 PM 7593 Views
(Updated Dec 28, 2017 11:05 PM)


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This is a place I've visited several times as a child. I visited it again today after around 20 years and I was reasonably pleased about my visit this time around. These are my thoughts on the same.


It is located in Alipore area and is fairly accessible via multiple routes. One has bus and cabs and other means of public transport to get there as well. Accessibility is not really a hindrance here.


The zoo is apparently in existence since late 19th century and I was a frequent visitor during my childhood days. The entry fee to the main zoo is Rs. 30 /- and the Aquarium across the road is Rs. 5 /- as of today. Upon entering, you have a map showing you the routes by which you can arrive at enclosures of different animals. Or you can just take a left or right and keep walking and it'll all sort of materialize.

I took the route with a lot of herbivores to start with, to the left. Chimpanzees, zebra, marmosets, spotted deer, barking deer, swamp deer, some other horned deer and nilgai. They all seemed to be going about their business quietly. In between, I came across a sloth bear, very eagerly strolling about, appeared to be searching for something. There seemed to be more kangaroos than I had seen earlier, in a separate wider enclosure. There was also a shy rhino in one enclosure.

There was also a wide enclosure with 2 giant tortoises. I subsequently came across the reptile house. It is surrounded by external enclosures with numerous marsh crocodiles, basking in the sun, above the green waters. On entering the reptile house, we have a roundish corridor space with glass enclosed cages for serpents at the periphery and a roundish space in the centre to see monitor lizards from the top. There is the Indian rock python, some cobras, water snake, rat snake, Russell's viper and several others. On exiting the reptile house and going further, there is also an enclosure for gharials. I saw 3 or 4 of them.

I also came across an open tiger enclosure where a tiger was sleeping on a raised platform in the middle of the grassy patch. It awakened as I watched it and looked here and there majestically for quite a while. It eventually got up and decided to conceal itself behind its rocky abode-cum-cage. Not far away, there was an enclosure with 2 leopards who seemed a bit agitated by the viewers' presence and appeared to pace about here and there. There was also an empty jaguar enclosure nearby. There were also small cages for jungle cats, fishing cats, some other tigers. One of the tigers seemed to be sleeping with all 4 legs facing upwards, in a very strange position. I also saw a couple of white tigers sleeping in their respective enclosures.

On going further, we came across an apes section which had some different kinds of monkeys and even the common langur who were either pacing about or feasting on a huge stock of comestibles in their respective cages. There was a bigger enclosure for a couple of medium-sized elephants and were close to 10 giraffes in the old enclosure. One could see porcupines, jackals and some other smaller mammals elsewhere. I also saw the same tiger who had gotten up and roamed about in the open enclosure, once towards the end of my zoo tour as well, who re-appeared from the confines  of its rocky hiding. There was also a lion enclosure and a lioness was pacing about outside. There seemed to be only 2 hippos compared to maybe more in the past.

There were a host of other birds in cages and in a lake like setting near the cages of the big cats. The birds included aquatic birds, emus, peacocks, pheasants, cockatoos, grey parrots, macaws, several unique parakeets and ostriches. One particular ostrich was constantly plucking at the grills of its cage with its beak.

On finishing the tour of the zoo, I decided to visit the aquarium, which I don't recall visiting before, although its existed since the 1970s. It is a small collection of aquatic animals which mostly seemed to constitute of fishes from South and central America. I found a certain "Alligator Gar" fish to be interesting in appearance and looks very much like the animal it's named after. There were some small sharks and most notably some small tiger sharks.


1) I found the changes related to the reptile house to be refreshing. Monitor lizards can also bask in the sun or choose to go into the water bodies, should they choose to. The snake cages are not pure white tiles with a wooden box anymore. They have tried to create some natural, interesting terrain inside the cages which make them more visible to the viewer.

Even the crocodiles which are now living in external natural enclosures seem happier and rightly so. I got the feeling on previous occasions, that they felt sort of bored and lethargic inside the reptile house.

2) There are lesser number of empty cages or enclosures compared to my last visits. With the exception of the jaguar which was either in hiding or not there, I think I saw each enclosure house what it was supposed to house.

3) Some animals like the bears, kangaroos, crocodiles, monitor lizards seem to have larger spaces to roam about.

4) On the other hand, there were some notable absentees. No black panther, litigon, tigon or liger. The hybrids were absent even the last time I visited, if I recollect correctly. No brown bears and lesser black bears as well. Lesser apes in general and lesser elephants.

5) More kangaroos and giraffes are a plus point. Giraffes are rare in other Indian zoos. More gharials than before too. The huge variety of birds and deer are maybe the main strength here.

6) I found it sort of stupid that picture taking wasn't allowed inside the reptile house and aquarium. Additionally, that it was only being monitored inside the reptile house but not the aquarium was even more stupid.

7) It is good that there are personnel stationed near the reptile house to check incidence of animal crimes. There have been occurrences of some viewers abusing reptiles which were exposed in the past, if I remember correctly.

8) I think housing tiger sharks in a small tank in the aquarium is also sort pointless as they can grow very big, because of which they'll either have to be relocated or released from captivity later.

9) One of the things I miss from my very first zoo visits is a tiger and crocodile in the same enclosure. Tiger in a grassy enclosure with a crocodile or two in the moat beneath with both having minimal chance of coming into conflict with each other. The crocodiles were relocated to some different place, more than 20 years ago.

10) Like before, there are eateries and ice cream stalls inside the zoological garden and some people do come for picnics here. I stopped for a couple of ice-cream breaks.

To conclude, I'll say the range of animals housed in Alipore zoo is still pretty good although maybe a bit diminished  (in some regards). For the climatic region this place is situated in, I think it supports a lot of fauna. It is more organized now with better enclosures and no wasted enclosures / cages. It is still a pretty decent experience for visitors. I would probably rate it 3.5+ / 5.

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Alipore Zoological Gardens - Kolkata