Statutory Body of The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
(Government of India)
As per Section 2 (39) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, "Zoo" means an establishment, whether stationary or mobile, where captive animals are kept for exhibition to the public and includes a circus and rescue centers but does not include an establishment of a licensed dealer in captive animals.
Most of us would have visited zoos at one point of time or another, usually during our childhood - with parents or as part of our school programmes. Many people think of a zoo as a place for relaxation, entertainment, a place to have a fun. Although the initial purpose of zoos was entertainment, over the decades, zoos have got transformed into centres for wildlife conservation and environmental education. Zoos evoke strong reactions. People appreciate the opportunity to see animals they would never otherwise get a chance to see. This may be the closest to wildanimal that many urban people may get, and so zoos provide a unique opportunity to create an interest and love for animals. While many people enjoy visiting zoos, others strongly feel that it is wrong to keep animals in captivity. It is true that some animals seem unable to settle down and live happily in a zoo. On the other hand, it must be remembered that many of these animals would not have survived without zoos. Apart from saving individual animals, zoos have a role to play in species conservation too. Many zoos in the country take care of sick, injured and infirm wild animals rescued from their wild habitat. The zoos create special facilities for such animals. They are kept off- display and taken care of.The learning's and the experiences gained while interacting with live animals - seeing, hearing them - can not be replaced by other modes of education. Live animals create curiosity and interest. Zoos provide an opportunity to open up a whole new world, and this could be used in sensitising visitors regarding the value and need for conservation of wildlife.The zoos are carrying out planned conservation breeding of endangered animals for reintroduction in the wild habitat or to supplement wild populations. The zoos are the place to study behaviour, biology and veterinary aspects of the wild animals.
In the past, there was mushroom growth of zoos in India. Zoos, if managed properly, serve a useful role in the preservation of wild animals. The Central Zoo Authority was created for overseeing the functioning and development of zoos in the country. Only such zoos are to be allowed to operate that are recognised and maintain animals in accordance with the norms and standards prescribed by the Zoo Authority keeping into consideration welfare of the animals.
The Marble Palace Zoo in Kolkata city, West Bengal which was established in the year 1854 is the oldest existing zoo in the country.
Sri Venkateshwara Zoological Park located in Tirupati city in Andhra Pradesh is the largest zoo in the country. The Area of the zoo is 1400 hectares.
There are 145 numbers of recognized zoos in the country as on 31-01-2020.Out of which 17 are large category zoos, 24 are medium category zoos, 32 are small category zoos, 58 are Mini category zoos, 13 are Rescue Centres and 1 CircusThe zoos are categorised keeping in view the requirements of technical and scientific human resources, upkeep, housing, health care and visitor facilities for operation of the zoo. The categorisation has been done on the basis of area of the zoo, number of visitors, number of species and individual animals- including endangered species- housed in the zoo.
The ownership pattern of recognised zoos is as follows:
Ownership of Zoos
Number of Zoos
Government of India (MoEF&CC)
Government of India (Autonomous body)
Government of India (Statutory body)
State Government (Forest Department)
State Government (Other than FD)
Public Sector Undertaking
(as on 31.01.2020)
Number of Species
Number of animals
(Schedule I and II)
Other Indian species
(Schedule III and IV)
(as on 31.03.2018)The information pertaining to each of the recognised zoo is at “Information about Zoos” under the heading “Public Information” on this website
There are 150 number of Endangered species housed in the Indian Zoos as on 31/03/2018.
This symbol of the CZA is a pair of interlocking hands, suggestive of cooperation and interdependence. The black hand looks like a mammal and the white hands looks like a bird. The letter 'C' enclosed stands for the first letter of the Central Zoo Authority, as well as "Conservation", indicating the resolve of the CZA to conserve wildlife. The openness of the form is suggestive of getting away from the traditional bar-like enclosures.
1. Captive Breeding Programmes and exchange programmes -Almost all new animals coming to zoos are acquired from other zoos through captive breeding programmes. Zoos also exchange their surplus animals with other zoos. Permission and clearances from the concerned authority have to be taken for this.2. Rescued animals- Animals from the wild are acquired only as rescued ones, or for planned breeding programmes. Wild animals are today coming into conflict with humans as a result of disturbances and loss of habitat. Animals which are victims of such conflict are rescued, and brought to zoo.Some animals, for example, tamed elephants and macaques, create havoc when they get beyond the control of their master. People and property are harmed by these animals. Zoos are called to help. These animals which are caught are brought to zoos for treatment and housing.
At zoos, having fun and learning can go together. People must realise that animals they see at a zoo are special ones. Indeed, many species seen in zoos are threatened with extinction. Their population is decreasing in the wild due to various reasons. Usually, people spend only a few seconds at each enclosure and then hurry to the next. If more time is spent, a lot of things can be observed. Apart from observing animals, talking to a zoo keeper about the feeding, behaviour, etc. can be an interesting and educative experience.Other activities that the visitor can do at the Zoo are as follows:Visiting the Education/Interpretation facilities - enquire about the animals, participating in various programmes organized by the zoo at various days of the year etc.Visiting the birds enclosure/exhibit- watch towers for bird watching, gathering information about resident and migratory birds, water birds etc.Visiting Reptile house: observing and noting the different reptiles housed at the zoo.
Zoos are special places for animals, so it is very important to know what one should not do in a zoo. Visitors may disturb animals knowingly or unknowingly. There are often signboards in Zoos which tell people the things that should not be done. These instructions must be taken seriously.Many zoos in the country has been declared as “No plastic zone”. The visitor should not bring a plastic bag with food material into the zoo. This has been done to protect the animals, as plastic bags, empty, as well as with leftover snacks, which are dumped on the lawns or thrown inside animal enclosures, may be swallowed by the animals. Polythene bags are non- biodegradable and cannot be digested. They can clog the digestive tract, and suffocate the animals to death. There are two very important things that visitors to zoos must remember. Do not feed the animals.This is the number one rule in a zoo. Each animal needs a different type of food. The food given at the zoo is special and similar to what the animals feed in the wild. If they are fed with biscuits, wafers, etc. by the visitors, animals lose their appetite for the type of food they are meant to eat. Animals may also get infected with human diseases when visitors give them food. This can make animals sick and even lead to deaths.Many people think that they are helping the animals by feeding them. This is where education to visitors to zoos becomes very essential. Instead of feeding animals, it would be a good idea to wait until their keepers feed them, and have fun watching. Do not tease the animalsShouting, hissing, making faces, throwing things, running in front of the cage, waving sticks - such activities disturb and irritate animals. Animals will be a lot happier if the surroundings are quiet. Sounds that animals make can also be heard if silence is maintained. Animals are very shy and sensitive and have their own routine. Some stay awake at night and sleep most of the day, and if visitors disturb the animals just because they want to see the animals moving around, it disturbs their routine. Some animals need privacy and may be hiding. If the animal is hiding, one can come back later and check. People often expect animals to be active all the time, as though the animal wanted to meet and react to them at that precise moment. Teasing is a major cause of suffering for zoo animals. Teasing causes mental stress. Even seemingly "harmless" teasing such as snapping fingers at the animals, calling, hissing, or running in front of the cage, may be irritating to the animals.Other behaviours of the visitors like spitting and smoking can prove dangerous to animals. The feeding or teasing the zoo animals as well as littering inside the zoo is a punishable offence under the Section 38J of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Many zoos in the country has started the initiative of sponsoring or adopting a zoo animals under which a sponsor may provide funding/donation toward the care of the animal housed at the Zoo. The Zoo authorities will take care of the animal sponsored with the help of donation provided by the sponsor. It is a special way to care for the animals that you love.
The zoos provide adequate civic facilities for such persons at appropriate and convenient places. Zoos also make arrangements for providing access to the persons for viewing wild animals at various animal enclosures by means of providing wheelchairs and slanting ramps etc.
For the safety of the zoo animals, the following items are not allowed on Zoo grounds: Any kind of plastic items –bottles, polythene bags, aluminium cans, plastic lids or straws etc. as it might accidentally find their way into the animals’ enclosures.
Pets are not allowed in the zoo- the zoo animal might get some infection. It can adversely affect the health of the zoo animals.
The people/ visitor/student can help zoos by being a volunteer. Many zoos has started Zoo Volunteer programme where a volunteer can assist in the day to day management of zoos like reception work/visitor management, zoo education programme etc.The Central Zoo Authority has issued guidelines for the Volunteers in Zoo Management in India. One who is influenced to take part may get in touch with Officer-in-Charge of the zoo.
The exhibits in the zoos are designed according to the behaviour and needs of the animals i.e. designed in a naturalistic manner. It is natural behaviour of animals also to take rest and relax. They may be excited or stressed due to visitors presence or behaviour and in that case, they withdraw themselves to any suitable area in their enclosure.Sometimes the animal rests at a secluded place in the exhibit and won’t be easily visible to the visitors. It is also due to the fact that different animals are active at different times of the day. The visitors should have patience to observe animal without causing any stress to the animals.
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