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A visit to Nandankanan Zoological Park in Bhubaneswar, Odisha

On day 2 of our Odisha's Golden Triangle tour to Odisha, we drove to Nandankan Zoological Park after spending some time in the morning at Khandagiri-Udayagiri caves. Nandankanan is one of the top tourist attractions of Odisha which needs no description. Nandankanan Zoo is at a distance of 15 Km from the city.
The zoo is distinct from other zoos in India and is unique in its own way.

Uniqueness of Nandankanan Zoo
  • 1st zoo in the world to breed white tiger and Melanistic tiger i.e black tiger, not black panther but black and light yellow striped tiger.
  • 2nd largest heronry (i.e a group of trees used as a breeding colony for herons) for open-billed storks. 
  • The only conservation breeding centre in the world for Indian Pangolins (i.e scaly ant-eaters).
  • The only zoo in India to have open-top leopard enclosure.
  • The only Zoological Park in India to become an institutional member of WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquarium). 
By the time we reached the zoo, it was 3.00 p.m. During our recent Odisha trip, all the tourist places that we visited were heavily crowded, may be due to the auspicious Hindi month of Magh. There was negligence of cleanliness in most of these tourist places because of too many tourists, particularly those from the weaker section of the society who don't have a hygienic sense and also are not (don't want to be) aware of health and hygiene.

The zoo is spread across a very large area and it is not possible to walk all around particularly with small children. Actually we thought of going for Safari but unfortunately it was discontinued few days prior to our visit. As the zoo closes at 5:00 p.m, so we wanted to go round the zoo in the Battery Operated Vehicles (BOV).

We took tickets at the counter in the entrance. Entry fee is Rs.40/- per person and Rs.100/- per person for foreign tourists. Entry is free for children up to 12 years of age. After entering inside, there is a separate counter for purchasing BOV ticket. Unfortunately 2-3 BOVs were under repair during our visit and only few BOVs were operational. We were asked to wait till one of the BOVs returns. We were informed that there is no per person or per seat ticket for BOV.

We were getting impatient as the time was running out and it was already 4:00 p.m. It was time for the wild animals to get inside their shelters and I thought we may not be able to see these animals. Luckily, sharp at 4 p.m one of the pre-booked BOV was about to start with a vacant front seat and a family of 5 members who booked the BOV, seated in the rear seats.

There are two types of BOVS:
  1. Small ones in which only 8 members are allowed to sit. Price is Rs.500/-.
  2. Large ones in which 14 members are allowed and price is Rs.750/-.
When we saw the pre-booked BOV about to move with 5 members, we (a family of 3 members) were allowed to occupy the front seat, of course on payment. This is a 1 hour ride in BOV and we could go round the zoo seeing the important zones. We were lucky to be there in time as the animals were about to get inside their shelters.

By the time we went to the elephant and bear's zone, to our disappointment these mammals had already gone into their hideouts.
Next we halted at the Reptile zone and there were too many tourists at this place, literally pushing one another, some spitting on the floor wherever they feel like spitting with the least civic sense and some even releasing foul gas with sound. Some shouting loudly to wake up the sleeping python. That was a terrible experience, quite disgusting.
The BOV was halting at all the important spots where we can get down, watch the wild and click photos. So, there we could see the sleeping leopard, chimpanzee, giraffe and spotted deer.

From here we went to the most attractive zone i.e the big cat zone. OMG! this zone was heavily crowded with visitors falling on one another to see the big beasts. I felt lucky to see beautiful beast family.
Yes, there you see Tiger Bijaya and her two cubs - one normal female and the other a white male. These cubs were born in Aug 2016 and are exhibited to visitors from May, 2017. Hm! I could click the rear view of Bijaya due to heavy crowd.
From here we moved to the next zone and the driver of the BOV told us that here we can see the black tiger which is unique of Nandankanan. I thought it is a black panther but I was awed.

Wow! that is the Melanistic tiger i.e the black tiger. Here we could see black tiger and white tiger together. That was a fantastic thing to see the black and white tigers together. We spent more time at this place and then walked to see the King of Jungles. Yes, the lion king and it's cub sitting on a bench with a majestic look.
It was already 4:50 p.m and our BOV drive was over. The driver dropped us at the same point near entrance from where we started.

We then just hurriedly moved around the aviary (birds) zone to see some of the rare ones which we don't find anywhere else. And one such rare bird is the black swan, yes the black swan.
The Mandanrin ducks - These are found in East Asia and are considered as the most beautiful ducks in the world. In the above image, you can see these in the middle below pic.

After going around the aviary zone, we came across the beautiful / well maintained garden. But it was closed for visitors. Somehow I could manage to capture the beauty of nature.
The visitors were moving around in a hurry and many were walking out as it was time to close the zoo. As we were walking along the walk way towards the exit gate, I luckily spotted our ancestors sitting on the fence. Yes, the langurs. I was a bit scared to go close but somehow manage to take few clicks. 
By the time we came out it was already dark. We took a cab and were back to our hotel room.

It was a wonderful experience going round the zoo and seeing some of the rare species like the black tiger. This is one of the must-see attractions in Odisha's Golden Triangle tour.