Country's Best, Mysuru Zoo turns 125

Mysore Zoo is located near the palace in Mysuru, India and is one of the city's most popular attractions. It is one of the oldest and most popular zoos in India, and is home to a wide range of species.This year it celebrates 125 years of its existence. R. Uday Kumar tells us more...

The famous Mysuru Zoo completed 125 years since itslaunch early this year. Today the facility has become a significant tourist destination in India with highest number of visitors and has become a breeding hub for different species too. It has the highest number of collection of birds and animals and keeping them in good health is the biggest challenge, said Kamala Karikalan who happens to be the first executive director of the Mysuru Zoological Garden.

Though there is no official study or survey done by any authority, a travel website has rated Mysuru Zoo as the best zoo in India receiving highest number of visitors-over three million during the last two consecutive years. The zoo authorities have created tourist-friendly facilities like online ticketing, food court, baby care units, RO plants, restrooms, well maintained paths and greenery. “The facility is also a plastic free zone. The credit goes to all the 300 staffers including animal keepers, security personnel, group D and vets”, added Kamala.

Mysuru Zoo is numerouno in exhibits, collection and has highest number of individual animals in India. It is the leading hub in breeding a few unique animal and bird species. What started on a 10-acre spread, is now ranged across 78 acres. Yet there is a shortage of space to display more animals. Lack of space for vehicle parking is another concern.

Keeping the animals in the pink of health in captivity, in one of the best zoos in India, perhaps across the globe, is the biggest challenge. Mysuru Zoo has more than 1400 animals/birds of nearly 170 species.

Celebration to mark 125th anniversary this year:

The arrival of Shaurya, a pure Asiatic lion, from Gujarat marked the informal beginning of the celebration as the zoo authorities have planned to get more animals in exchange for breeding. This apart, the zoo has proposed to redesign its webpage, main entrance and to bring out a short film in Kannada and English about the zoo’s history. “We have lined up celebrations throughout the year but are waiting for a nod from the Zoo Authority of Karnataka”, added Kamala.

History of Mysuru Zoo:
Mysore Zoo is one of the oldest surviving zoos in the world. A decade after the then Maharaja of Mysore Chamaraja Wadiyar ascended the throne, he opened the "Palace Zoo" in a 11-acre area as a private facility near Chamundi Hills in 1892. He engaged G H Krumbeigal, a German landscaper, to create the facility. Mysore Zoo started on a 10-acre plot and during 1907 another 6.22 acre was added to it. Subsequently, the area was extended to 45 acres and then to 78 acres. In 1909, the Palace Zoo was rechristened as Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens. The Zoo’s administrative control was transferred from Mysuru Palace to horticulture department in 1948. Two decades later, i.e, in 1972, it was given to the forest department. For some time, it was also with the parks and gardens department. The Zoo management was with the forest department till 1979 until the then government created an autonomous body - Zoo Authority of Karnataka to run all eight Zoḍos in the state.

Today it displays 1450 individual animals of 168 different species including exotic ones from 25 countries. It has big cats, smaller cats, primates, deer and antelopes, large mammals, aquatic birds, terrestrial birds and reptiles.

Birds and animal adoption at Mysuru Zoo:

While the zoos across India are educating the public about wildlife conservation, the facility at Mysuru has taken it a step forward by teaming up with the community to promote wildlife. During 2016-17, Rs 37.76 Lakh was collected from donors towards adoption of animals and birds.

Though adoption was introduced in the 1990s, it was not promoted until IFS officer Kumar Pushkar took charge as the director. Pushkar, who served as the director from September 2001 to August 2004, revived the adoption of animal’s scheme as a revenue model. But more importantly, he wanted the community to bond with the zoo, which, he believed, was crucial for promotion of the zoo. From Rs 38,633 recorded collection during 2001-02, it has now shot up to Rs 37.76 Lakh.

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