Assam State Zoo and Botanical Garden

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Located on the outer fringes of the busy Guwahati city, the Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden also popularly known as Guwahati Zoo, is the largest and oldest Zoo in the North-Easter region. The zoo is spread across a massive area of more than 400 acres of lush green hills within the Hengrabari Reserved Forest. It is home to more than 800 animals, birds and reptiles representing almost 113 species of animals and birds from around the world both indigenous and exotic. The zoo accommodates eye-catching exotic varieties of animals like Chimpanzees, White Rhinos & Black Rhinos,Zebras, Ostriches and Giraffes from Africa; Puma, Jaguar and Llama from South America and Kangaroos from Australia. There are also endangered species like the Great Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros, Golden Langur, Hoolock Gibbon, Asian Elephant, Tiger, Brow-antlered Deer, Binturong, Slow loris, Great Pied Hornbill, Gharial (fish-eating crocodile), Burmese rock python, etc.

It is one of the best and the most complete zoos in India. A part of the Hengrabari Reserve Forest which is wild and wooded, harbors a large number of free ranging wild species. A total number of 15 species of mammals, including Sambar, Barking Deer and Serow inhabit the area, apart from a whole host of other fauna like reptiles, amphibians and butterflies. Butterflies & moths of 227 species, Insects of 153 species, Spiders of 40 species, Herpeto fauna of 41 species, Avifauna of 173 species is a mammoth collection to be found in this zoo.The zoo campus is also a bird watcher’s paradise which has 152 species of birds. Following consolidates the biodiversity richness, related to free ranging faunal species , of Assam State Zoo .

History

Dating way back in the year 1957 when the 64th session of Indian National Congress was held in at Pandu in Guwahati, the Organising committee of INC organised an exhibition with few animals and birds for the entertainment for the delegates. The star attraction and a hot favourite among the delegates was a female Leopard Cub named Spotty . But after the meeting came to an end, the necessity of a zoo to house these animals was felt. These animals were shifted to Jalukbari and then to Panbazar area of Guwahati. After that a suitable place near Japorigog in the Hengrabari Reserve forest with an area of 130 Hectare, was created to facilitate and house these animals. Thus, the Assam State Zoo was established in the year 1957 and was open to public viewing in the year 1958. Spotty and her animal friends formed the seed collection at the inception of the Assam State Zoo . The total number of animals and birds, at the time of its launch was 42 (22 species) and 236 (31 species) respectively. Over the years, the Zoo grew and expanded. To get these exotic animals the Zoo used to send indigenous animals like One-horned Indian rhinoceros and others, to many countries. Though later the importance was shifted to indigenous species and several captive breeding programs also started which were successful. In the year 1959 a forest division was created as Assam State Zoo Division and the zoo was put under this division. The snake house is not a place for the fainthearted as one may find Pythons hanging down in odd shapes from a pole in the middle and smaller snakes in different colors enclosed in glass cages. This zoo has wide variety of snakes.

The Assam State Zoo also included a Museum with vast collection of priceless trophies, unique specimens, mounted skins and forest produces gathered from all over the region which gave opportunity to visitors to get an idea on biological opulence of this globally acclaimed biodiversity hotspot.

In the year 1982 a Botanical Garden and so Assam State Zoo became The Assam State Zoo Cum Botanical Garden. With the adjacent virgin forest strip considered as an authentic botanical treasure trove came to be recognized as one of the finest botanical garden in the region. Exquisitely landscaped, the garden along with the patch of contiguous natural forest is home to over 345 species of indigenous and 280 species of exotic plants. 44 gorgeous orchid species, a collection of medicinal plants, Palm grove are of special interest. Several species of rare and endangered species including the insectivorous pitcher plants like Nepenthes khasiana are also breed in this botanical garden.

The Herbarium collection of the State Zoo cum Botanical Garden is a wide-ranging assemblage of painstakingly collected, perfectly mounted and meticulously labeled herbarium sheets, about 2000 in number that represent around 550 species of north east flora.

The best way for a tour around the zoo is to start from the left of the entrance at the Serow enclosure, then take a right turn towards the enclosures of the leopard, bear, zebras, hog deer and other animals. There are a large numbers of antlers in the zoo as well. It is a widely spread zoological park and is also partly in a hilly terrain, the slanted foothills with trees and grass make it a natural habitat scene for some animals.

Guwahati Zoo is an excellent tourist spot in the city. Especially for the animals, the environment is excellent. Tall trees provide shade but had there been some flowering plants then the beauty would have enhanced. The wonderful large caged aquatic birds give the birds a feel of sanctuary. Royal Bengal tiger, white tiger, white rhino, black panther, asiatic lion, deer, sambhar deer, few cats and birds make this zoo a must see in Guwahati. So many different kinds of animals at a single point and kept in most possible natural surrounding like this cannot be found in other zoo.

Entry Ticket, Prices & Facilities

Entry fee of Rs 30 and Rs 10 for the camera is a convenient pricing for a visit to such a grand zoo. Facilities include Drinking water kiosks, Toilets , First-aid (at Zoo Hospital), Visitors sheds at convenient location, Restaurant, Library, Guide maps, Publications. etc is to be found in the state zoo.

While visiting such zoo one should keep certain points in mind. Like not feeding the animals, not touching the animals, nor disturbing or teasing the animals by shouting, prodding, throwing stones etc. The best thing about Assam State Zoo is it is a polythene free zone. So visitors are not allowed to carry plastic bags / plastic. So ensure that you carry food or eatables in paper bags and not litter the ground and throw refuse in the dust-bins provided only. Avoid going too close to the free-ranging animals as they may feel threatened and retaliate by mauling / biting. So keep yourself on prescribed walkways and do not venture into off-limit areas.

Zoo remains closed every Friday and the timing is from 8am to 4pm.

One of the recognized large zoo with natural landscape, big area and adequate number of wild life animals yet very much inside the city. Connectivity from Airport, Railway Station and ISBT is very convenient for visitors. Numerous Hotels in the city provides facility to visit zoo. Outside the Zoo many eateries and restaurant in the Zoo road area gives visitors opportunity to satisfy their hunger as well as taste some local cuisine. Children and adults alike will certainly enjoy a day out in this Zoo.

Location

JayB

A self-described travel enthusiast...

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