Said to be the largest zoological park in the country, the Arignar Anna Zoological Park or commonly known as the Vandalur Zoo has moved around a lot through the city of Madras. It was first opened in 1855, on the grounds of the Government Central Museum of Madras. The director of the museum persuaded the Nawab of the Carnatic to donate his animal collection to the museum and thus grew the zoo. To accommodate the growing size, the zoo got moved to the Vandalur Reserve Forest. In 1985, after years of construction, the zoo was reopened and was named after Annadurai and then became known as the Arignar Anna Zoological Park.
Also known as the 'Madras Zoo', the zoo houses around 1,500 wild species (including 46 endangered species) and over 1,265 acres of flora and fauna of different species. Vandalur Zoo also has a large number of mammals like the White Tiger And Himalayan Black Bear, birds (the flightless bird from Australia – Rhea), reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects in the park. Since it was built within the Reserve Forest, the zoo still maintains the vegetation that is popular to this part of the country.
The Vandalur Zoo also has a rescue and rehabilitation centre where abandoned wild animals are taken care of. All of the animals in the park are housed within enclosures, with enough room for them to move around, but also keeping them safe from visitors. There is a lion park too that covers about 74 acres and accounts for a 15-minute drive on a safari. The Vandalur Zoo also has a reptile house (also known as a serpentarium), an amphibian house, a crocodile enclosure, primate house an aquarium, a deer park and elephant rides.
You can opt for a battery-operated vehicle to tour around the place if walking is getting you exhausted. It will cost INR 100 for an adult and INR 50 for a child. The entry ticket for an adult is INR 75 and for a child below 12 years old is INR 35. Photography charges include INR 25 for a normal camera and INR 500 for a video camera. The zoo is closed on Tuesday, however, you can visit it on any other day of the week from 9 am to 6 pm. Avoid going in the afternoon as animals might be asleep. If you're wondering about how to get there, you can either drive down or take a bus. The nearest railway station is Vandalur station.