Nandankanan Zoological Park

APRIL 27, 2017

Nandankanan Zoological Park is a 437-hectare zoo and botanical garden in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India. Established in 1960, it was opened to the public in 1979 and became the first zoo in India to join World Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 2009.

The State Finance Department raised objections to a zoo in Odisha because of the cost of both establishing and maintaining the facility. While the issue was being debated, animals arrived back at Bhubaneswar in May 1960, posing problems to the forest department for housing and feeding them. P. Mohandra (Divisional Forest Officer, Puri) and G. K. Das (Divisional Forest Officer, Deogarh) built temporary structures at Khandagiri for the animals, and the community of Jain helped feed them.

History of Nandankanan Zoological Park Bhubaneswar

Nandankanan Zoological Park is one of the biggest and famous zoos in India. Located in Bhubaneswar, this zoo, unlike others in the country, has been built inside a natural forest, which is moist deciduous in nature and remains semi-ever green. The animals kept in this zoo get the feel of their natural surroundings and roam freely without any apprehensions. Nandankanan has the distinction of being the first zoo in the world to breed Melanistic and White tigers and the sole conservation breeding center for Indian Pangolins, across the globe.


A member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquarium (WAZA) - the only one in the country - the Nandankanan zoo is also recognized by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) for preservation of Indian pangolins, tigers and long billed vultures. It is the first zoo in the country to feature an open-top enclosure for leopards and also the first, where endangered Ratels were born in captivity. The zoo has large pools for housing Hippopotamus and Gharials, and has been a captive breeding center for the latter since 1980.

The name Nandankanan in the local language means Garden of the Heavens. Such is the importance and exclusivity of the zoo that the Indian Railways has named an express train after it called the Nandankanan Express while the Indian Postal Department has released a special cover featuring it. On a visit to the city of Bhubaneswar, an excursion to the Nandankanan Zoological Park and Botanical Garden is a must, especially for those tourists, who are traveling with their children.

The origin of the Nandankanan zoo began rather interestingly, when some forest officials from Odisha decided to represent the State in the World Agricultural Fair at Delhi in 1960, by showcasing its indigenous rare orchids and wild animals at the fair. However, the idea soon faced roadblocks as the procurement of such wild animals and their transportation was calculated to be quite an expensive affair. Hence, it was re-decided to rather take small animals such as Wild cat, Flying squirrel, Peacock, Mouse deer, Pangolin, Leopard cat, etc. to the fair. Since time was running out to capture these animals from the wild, people with possession of such wild animals were approached for procurement of the animals, by hire or purchase.