Though an integral part of the city since 1977, the zoo is forever adding new animals or exhibits or innovating some aspect which makes repeated trips to the zoo interesting and fun every time. Spread over an area of 625 acres, accommodating a variety of animals including rare and exotic ones, the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park in Vizag has different sections for primates, carnivores, lesser carnivores, small mammals, nocturnal animals, reptiles, ungulates and birds. It has over 80 species of animals with a focus on endemic species. Animals are housed in small islands behind a deep moat and fencing, ensuring safety for the visitors and providing a natural habitat for the animals. Most of the animals live in open islands with a moat and wall to maintain a healthy distance between the animals and visitors.
The animals thrive in the open due to the rich ecosystem in close proximity of Kambalakonda Reserve Forest area. And lest one dismisses the Vizag Zoo as inadequate, for a serious wildlife enthusiast or an information-hungry student there is even a Biosphere Learning Centre, a Library and a Canteen making the whole day spent here worth it. Enhancing the zoo experience, bicycles and eco-friendly battery operated rickshaws were recently introduced at the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park. Also part of the zoo though not open to the public is the Animal Rescue Centre, a brainchild of the Central Zoo Authority to shelter endangered species subjected to cruelty by circus companies. This extension of the zoo is a retirement home for the feral yet callously domesticated wild cats. On the last count it had 17 lions and seven tigers.
Recent new arrivals at the zoo include the three baby gaurs (or Indian bison) that were born in the zoo. Also expected to arrive soon are three chimpanzees, zebra and pigmy hippos. Latest on the favourite list are the cat-like lemurs, which incidentally belong to the monkey family (remember the movie Madagascar?); and yes, lemurs are native to Madagascar. The cute primates including an adorable baby have been regaling visitors with their histrionics.
Geographically, the zoo is actually a part of the Kambalakonda Reserve Forest, though it is segregated from the main forest area by the road cutting through. Billed as the only zoo in India located amidst natural settings, with hills acting as barriers on two sides, a stream right at the centre and the blue waters of the sea forming the backdrop, the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park is a favourite haunt not just for animal lovers but also those who wish to spend a day to chill out amidst the trees. It has two entrance/exit gates on either side. So while one is on the main road (erstwhile NH 16) leading towards Madhurawada next to Visakha Valley School road, the other is towards the Beach road near Sagar Nagar. It is open to public on all days of the week except Monday.