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Alipore Zoological Gardens

The Alipore Zoological Gardens situated in Kolkata is the biggest and oldest zoo in India. This zoo is called in different names like the Alipore Zoo, Calcutta Zoo or Kolkata Zoo, due to the name change from Calcutta to Kolkata. The Alipore Zoological Gardens was opened to the public on May 1, 1876, and is the main tourist attraction of Kolkata.  It covers a wide range of about 45 acres of land and has a wonderful and vast collection of flowers, plants and trees.  Innumerable varieties of wild animals are bred and taken care of in natural enclosures at this zoological park.

History

The plan to start a zoo in Calcutta was thought of in the beginning of 19th century by the British rulers.  Much later, Dr. John McCleland, the curator of Bengal Asiatic Society’s Museum brought up the plan of establishing a zoological garden in Calcutta in 1842, but that plan was not noticed by many.  The president of Asiatic Society of Bengal, Dr. Joseph Bart Fayrer, and the postmaster to the Government of India, Carl Louis Schwendler laid their plans of the zoo in 1867 and in 1873 respectively.  Due to lack of proper space both the plans could not be brought to action.  In 1875, Sir Richard Temple, the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal formed a committee to a find an appropriate site and they chose the land on the sides of Alipore Road.  The Lieutenant Governor approved the site and a sum of Rs. 5000 was sanctioned to begin with the preliminary works of setting up the zoological park.  Mr. Schwendler, called as the ‘Father of the Zoo,’ donated his fine menagerie and the zoo began to grow with donors gifting a number of wild and exotic animals.  A management committee of five members was set up for the first time in December, 1875, which settled matters like the entrance fees and opened the Alipore Zoological Gardens for the public in May 1, 1876.

The history of the Alipore Zoological Gardens will be complete only by paying tribute to the initial caretaker of the park, Mr. Rai Bahadur Ram Brahma Sanyal, who was appointed as the superintendent, by Dr. George King, a Botany Professor at the Medical College of Calcutta.  Mr. Ram Brahma Sanyal recorded all that he observed with respect to feeding, housing, reproduction, behaviour and treatment of the animals daily.  With the help of these observations he wrote a book, ‘A Handbook of the Management of Wild Animals in Captivity in Lower Bengal’ which was published in 1892.

Animals

The Alipore Zoological Gardens encloses a wide variety of carnivorous, herbivorous and omnivorous animals like the Royal Bengal Tiger, White Tiger, African Lion, Leopard, Jaguar, Fishing cat, Jungle cat, Great Indian One-horned Rhinoceros, Hippopotamus, Reticulated Giraffe, Dromedary Camel, Grant's Zebra, Indian Elephant, Swamp deer, Brow Antlered deer, Sambar deer, Hog deer, Barking deer, Spotted deer, White Fallow deer, Nilgai, Black Buck, Chimpanzee, Hamadryas baboon, Olive baboon, Common marmoset, Bonnet monkey, Rhesus monkey, Assamese monkey, Common Laguar, Bengal Porcupine, Red Kangaroo and Giant Squirrel.  Earlier a Giant Alabadra Tortoise known as Adwaita, which was brought from Seychelles and gifted to the Alipore Zoological Gardens in 1975, lived until it was 250 years old and died in 2006.

The zoo also has a vivid collection of birds like a number of Parakeets, Macaw species, Cockatoos, Conures, Bulbuls, Lories, Lorikeets, Touracos, Hornbills, Golden Pheasant, Lady Amherst's Pheasant, Swinhoe's Pheasant, Goose, Pelicans, Storks, Eagle, Kite, Peacock, Ostrich, Emu, Cassowary, Myna, Koel and Pigeons.  The migratory birds like the Sarus Crane are also a famous attraction of the Alipore Zoological Gardens.

Location

The following is the location of the Alipore Zoological Gardens.

Address: No. 2, Belvedere Road, Alipore, Kolkata, 700027

Landmark: Opposite to Taj Bengal Hotel

Contact No: +91 33 24791150, +91 33 24399391

Email:  [email protected]

Visit timing

It nearly takes more than 2 hours to go around the entire zoological gardens and the visiting hours are from 9 am to 5 pm.  The zoo is closed every Thursday and if that day happens to be a public holiday the zoo is kept open and closed on the next working day.

Ticket charges

The entrance fees are Rs. 20 per person and an additional amount of Rs. 5 is charged to visit the aquarium.  An additional amount of Rs. 250 per hour is charged if anybody wishes to carry a Video camera.