Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park

3.8 / 5 71 votes


Weather:

Time Required: 4 Hours

Timings:

Summers: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Winters: 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM (Thursday closed)

Entry Fee:

INR 20 (for Indians and SAARC country residents), INR 50 (for foreigners), INR 10(Camera)
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Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Darjeeling Overview

The Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park is a splendid enclosure in Darjeeling housing a wide variety of animals. Also known as Darjeeling Zoo, this is a haven for animals of all kinds and a huge centre of attraction for animal lovers and nature enthusiasts. The zoo is known internationally for its breeding and conservation programs and also includes an off-display breeding centre for snow leopards and red pandas. In addition to these rarer species, the zoo is also enriched with Asiatic black bear, barking deer, leopards, blue and yellow Macaw, Eastern Pangolin, Pheasant, Himalayan Monal, Himalayan Wolf, Lady Amherst, Leopard Cat, Macaw, Red Jungle Fowl, Red Panda, Royal Bengal Tiger, Sambar Deer, Temminck's Tragopan, Yak, and many more. 

This attraction was set up in 1958 and was named after the former governor of West Bengal, Padmaja Naidu, who was also the daughter of Sarojini Naidu. Witha n average elevation of a whopping 7000 feet, it is the largest high altitude zoo in India. The Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park specializes in breeding animals adapted to alpine conditions and has successful captive breeding programs for the snow leopard, the critically endangered Himalayan wolf and the red panda. The zoo serves as the central hub for Central Zoo Authority of India's red panda program and is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Owing to its unyielding efforts to repopulate these endangered species, the Darjeeling Zoo has been awarded the prestigious honour of "The Earth Heroes" in 2014 out of over 300 zoos worldwide. 

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The Darjeeling Zoo has many endangered species of animal that you might not get to see any place else. Tibetian wolf, Snow leopard, the Siberian tiger is noted crowd attraction and has been garnering tourists here since the very beginning. The exotic zoo includes an off-display breeding centre for snow leopards and red pandas which is a great attraction for many animal lovers. There are Siberian Tigers, Yaks among other animals. You can also witness the Himalayan Black Bear roaming about as you walk a little ahead. The zoo also maintains Himalayan flora that brings many nature lovers to the place.

The layout of the Darjeeling Zoo has been made such that it somewhat imitates the living conditions of the Alpine animals that are bred here. As you enter through the main gate, you are welcomed with a huge aviary that houses many different kinds of birds such as Rose Ring Parakeets, Hill Mynas, Ring-Necked Pheasants, and Blue Gold Macaw. From here on, there are roads that span into every direction possible, and you can choose your pick. If you decide to take the straight road uphill, you will see a flight of stairs which are supposed to be taken on your journey back and not into the zoo. After you walk a few paces, you will be able to spot a few Himalayan Black Bears lolling around which are originally native to the mountains of Tibet, Nepal and China.

A few steps beyond the bears' enclosure, if you peer to your left over the fence, you will see Yaks which are native to Himalayan and Southcentral Asia spending a quiet time here. Keep walking uphill, and you will encounter the upper section of the zoo. Take the road on the right and you will see a number of big cats such as Indian Tigers, Snow Leopards, Black Leopards and Clouded Leopards in open spaces but bound by wires. A prized possession of the Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park is its very rare Siberian Tiger, which can be seen here as well. The section on the right has Tibetan Wolves in an open area, and a section next to it houses Jackals.

Once you reach the bottom of the zoo near the aviary, you will be able to see the Red Panda Conservation Section, where a suitable environment has been created for them to be able to live a healthy life and repopulate their species. Among other animals that you can see on this stretch are Sambar Deer, Blue Sheep, Himalayan Tahr, Barking Deer, Goral and Musk Deer.

The Darjeeling zoo was established on August 14, 1958, in the Birch Hill neighbourhood of Darjeeling under the Department of Education of the Government of West Bengal, with a goal to study and preserve Himalayan fauna. In January 1972, the park became a registered society, with an agreement that maintenance costs would be shared by the central and state governments. The park was transferred to the West Bengal Department of Forests in the May of 1993 and was renamed Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park in 1975. Captive breeding of snow leopards was started in 1983, with leopards which were brought to the zoo from Zurich, the United States, and Leh-Ladakh. The red panda program was started in 1994. With the success of these programmes in repopulating endangered species, the efforts of the park were hailed by environmentalists all over the world and it has been a major ecological hotspot ever since.

A convenient drive away from central Darjeeling, Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park is easily accessible via cabs. However, cars are not allowed to the entrance of the zoo. You can also take the Jawahar Road from Mall Road and keep walking for about 30 minutes until you reach the zoo. Another way to Darjeeling Zoo is via the Lebong Cart Road which lies just below the zoo, from where you can walk uphill to reach the premises. 

Battery Operated Carts are also available from the Gorkha Bhawan to Darjeeling Zoo, which can accommodate 8 persons at a time. It runs from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM and charges INR 20 per person for one way. You can also hire the entire cart for INR 500.

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