Arignar Anna Zoological Park
Arignar Anna Zoological Park (abbreviated AAZP), also known as the Vandalur Zoo, is a zoological garden located in Vandalur, a suburb in the southwestern part of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, about 31 kilometres (19 mi) from the city centre and 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from Chennai Airport. It previous location was set up in 1855 and was the first public zoo in India. It is affiliated with the Central Zoo Authority of India. Spread over an area of 602 hectares (1,490 acres), including a 92.45-hectare (228.4-acre) rescue and rehabilitation centre, the park is the largest zoological garden in India. The zoo houses 2,553 species of flora and fauna across 1,265 acres (512 ha). As of 2012 the park houses around 1,500 wild species, including 46 endangered species, in its 160 enclosures. As of 2010, there were about 47 species of mammals, 63 species of birds, 31 species of reptiles, 5 species of amphibians, 25 species of fishes, and 10 species of insects in the park. The park, with an objective to be a repository of the state's fauna, is credited with being the second wildlife sanctuary in Tamil Nadu after Mudumalai National Park. In 1854, Edward Green Balfour, the then director of the Government Central Museum at Madras, persuaded the Nawab of the Carnatic to donate his entire animal collection to the museum. This attracted large crowds and became the nucleus of the Madras Zoo, which was founded in 1855. Balfour started the zoo on the museum premises, and a year later it had over 300 animals, including mammals, birds and reptiles. It was later transferred to the Madras Corporation and shifted to People's Park near Chennai Central railway station at Park Town in 1861, as it was growing. The municipal zoological garden occupied one end of the 116-acre (47 ha) park and was open free to the public. By 1975, the zoo could no longer expand, and it had to be moved out of the city because of space constraints and increased noise pollution due to the city's high-density traffic. Hence it was planned in 1976 to maintain the animals in the zoo in good simulated conditions. In 1976, the Tamil Nadu Forest Department set aside 1,265 acres (512 ha) in the Vandalur Reserve Forest on the outskirts of the city to build the current zoo, which is the largest zoological garden in India and the Indian Subcontinent and one of the largest in the world. Work started in 1979 at an initial cost of ₹ 75 million, and the zoo in its new premises was officially opened to public on 24 July 1985 by the then chief minister of Tamil Nadu M. G. Ramachandran, when most of the works were completed. In the beginning, the area was nothing more than a scrub jungle, with practically no tree cover. The zoo authorities and people from surrounding villages collected seeds of different trees from neighbouring areas and afforested the zoo area. In 2001, 92.45 hectares (228.4 acres) of land next to the park was acquired to build a rescue and rehabilitation centre for confiscated and abandoned wild animals, increasing the park's size to 602 hectares (1,490 acres). In 1955, the zoo held the first All-India Zoo Superintendents Conference, as part of the centenary celebrations. The zoo is named after Tamil politician Annadurai commonly called as Aringar Annadurai].