The Mysore Zoo is a part of the typical South Indian’s psyche as the name brings with it images of elephants and tigers from the depths of childhood memory. Officially called the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, the total area of the zoo is spread over 245 acres of sprawling lush landscape.
Being one of the oldest zoos in South India, the zoo has seen a fair share of animals, (notwithstanding animal deaths and births, transfers and new arrivals), controversies and most importantly visitors. Today, the zoo is simply home to a wide range of animal species and is amidst the city’s top tourist attractions.
Re-tracing the story of the beloved Mysore Zoo
Established in 1892, the zoo has witnessed the change of several eras and governments. The royal patronage of the erstwhile Ruler of Mysore, Sri Chamarajendra Wadiyar Bahadur made the establishment and maintenance of the zoo a possibility for a very long time.
The Mysore zoo was christened as the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens in 1909 and the name has stuck as the official nomenclature since then. The name is a recognition and vote of thanks to the illustrious founder and patron.
The sprawling area that is now called Mysore zoo did not start out that way. Initially, the zoo had a total of only 10.9 acres. In small increments the zoo grew to incorporate more and more land and therefore more animals. The Mysore Maharajas and the Government alternately supported and nourished the gardens.
The official baton of control of the zoo was passed on from the Royalty to the Government in 1948. The horticulture department of the government received the baton. 1972 brought with it a change in the zoo’s administration. It was perceived that the Forest department would be better suited to the running and upkeep of the zoo.
In 1979, the zoo authority of Karnataka was born. It was only after 2001 that all the eight zoos in the state were transferred to the total control of the zoo authority of Karnataka.
The animals of the Mysore zoo
It is believed that the first few animals in the zoo were “collected” by the Maharajas of Mysore on their European and African vacations. Herman Ruhe, a German owner of numerous zoos in Germany was the dealer through which these collections grew.
Apart from buying animals, the zoo was also an animal orphanage of sorts. The zoo adopted various abandoned calves and young animals. The zoo has permanent ink in the pages of history as it is one of the oldest zoos and also owing to the fact that Orangutans, Gorillas and Chimpanzees were housed there in 1977. All three species were hitherto never housed together in India.
Further, the zoo was the very first to attempt to improve the Sangai’s genetic endowment by acquiring blood lines from the Calcutta and Delhi zoos. White elephants and penguins, rare species in South Indian zoos are also a part of the Mysore zoo family.
With rare and awe-inspiring species like red kangaroos, lemurs, sun bear, female chimpanzee, binturong, Indian rhinoceros, Hanuman langurs, white peafowl, Indian lions, zebra, rhea, red ibis and baboons, amidst numerous other species, a visit to the Mysore zoo is bound to leave a strong impression on the visitors mind.
Other endeavors at the Mysore Zoo
Apart from being an area of recreation, the zoo is celebrated as a place of education also. With animal picture cards, guide books and brochures learning more about the animals, their habitats and the maintenance of the zoo is a possibility for all visitors. Displaying the animals in a natural setting is a unique aspect attributed to the zoo.
Conservation education is also another endeavor at the Mysore zoo. Various species such as zebras, antelopes, chimpanzee and hippos amidst numerous other animals are being bred in the zoo. The propagation efforts led to an African black Rhinoceros hormone being injected into a non-breeding male rhino. A young one was born in 1965 and this has led to the zoo becoming the zoo becoming Asia’s largest holding of zoo-bred rhinoceros.
A zoo birth of an Asian elephant was a possibility in the year 1967 through the mating of the tusker and a cow elephant. With a giraffe calf born in the 1960s, the zoo has the largest number of zoo bred mammals.
Successful breeding of rare animals like cheetah, wild dog and wolves led to a special mention for the zoo across India in 2012.
Apart from the normal zoological ventures, the Mysore zoo is also engaged in producing vermin compost with the available dung waste which is in no uncertain terms an endless supply.
With the world’s first caesarian section delivery performed on an elephant led to the birth of a calf, Dr. Bird an Australian gynecologist helped Mysore zoo’s elevation to global fame and recognition.
Visiting the Mysore Zoo
The Mysore zoo is open to visitors Wednesday through Monday between 8:30 am and 5:30 pm. Tuesday, the zoo is closed to visitors through the day.
The best time to visit the zoo, however is the morning hours as the birds are active during that time and the afternoons after 3:00 pm when the mammals are most active. Before 11:00 am or after 3:00 pm is therefore the best time to visit the zoo.
Tickets and Tariff
There is an entrance fee to the zoo.
- Adults: Rs 50/-
- Children (5 – 12 years): Rs 20/-
- Children (below 5 years): Free
- Video Camera: Rs 150/-
- Still Camera: Rs 20/-
The specific tariffs are regularly updated at the website, www.mysorezoo.info. Tickets can also be purchased online. Parking invites a separate charge, also detailed on the website. The entrance fee is the main source for the maintenance and upkeep of the zoo.
- Visitors are allowed from -8:30 AM – 5:30 PM
- The place is normally closed in Thursdays.
Mysore Zoo Adoption Scheme
An adoption scheme introduced in 2000, has invited celebrities, animal lovers and institutions to chip into supporting the animals at the zoo. S.Darshan, a leading Kannada actor has recently adopted a Tiger cub and an Elephant. This is the fourth time the same elephant is being adopted by the star.