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The natural abode

The natural abode
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The Natural Abode. The Indira Gandhi Zoological Park, Visakhapatnam, is one of the largest zoo in India. It is spread over sprawling 625 acres and...

The Indira Gandhi Zoological Park, Visakhapatnam, is one of the largest zoo in India. It is spread over sprawling 625 acres and located in picturesque Eastern Ghats of India. A natural water body situated in the heart of the zoo adds beauty to it. It is the only zoo in the country, which is situated in the reserve forest and is close to the beach. The hills act as barriers on two sides and stream in the zoo with a backdrop of pristine blue waters of the sea makes it a treat to the eyes of the visitors. The park is all set for expansion and will be a major tourist attraction soon.

The zoo has been a favourite destination for children, especially for animal-lovers and photographers. However this year there has been a marked decrease in the number of visitors. As many as 7.8 lakh people visited the zoo in 2013-14 financial year and it decreased to 5.3 lakh in the 2014-15.

Last year ‘Hudhud’ cyclone devastated the Park, uprooting full-grown trees and damaging the shelters of the zoo. To bring it back to its former glory, the AP government has sought Rs 35 crore from the World Bank for reconstruction and expansion of the zoo.

“The number of visitors further decreased in recent months because of soaring summer. We have restored over 16 shelters and built a few with palm leaves. We are also providing drinking water to the visitors,” said Zoo Curator G Ramalingam.

In the 65 enclosures, the zoo has a wide variety of animals, which include wild dogs, monkeys, birds, bears, snakes, lizards, crocodiles, ostrich, elephants and giraffe. The animals were shifted to a safe haven during the ‘Hudhud’ cyclone.

Ramalingam shares the expansion plans. The zoo will undertake huge plantation programme in June. They will plant local species, which are strong and deep rooted like the Marri, Raavi and Neem. The butterfly park, which has been major attraction for the children and was damaged by cyclone, will also be ready by June or July. “With lot of space for expansion, we are also planning to develop bird park and fish aquarium soon,” he adds. In addition, new stainless steel cages will be constructed, landscaping, strengthening enclosures, building new animal houses and more facilities for the visitors are proposed.

He also pointed out that there are over 47 animal keepers and there are vacancies for 20-25 keepers, which need to be filled by the government. On the new arrivals, Ramalingam said, “Zebras, Chimpanzee, Orangutan, and Olive Baboons are expected to arrive in a month, and work on safari will also start around the same time.

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