Chennai’s well known for its wildlife conservation efforts. Zoos, wildlife parks and nature reserves in and around the city are all well taken care of. In addition to that, neighbouring areas around Chennai are popular wildlife hotspots by themselves. So if you’re into wildlife and an animal lover, check out these places to experience wildlife in Chennai. The list starts with places closest to Chennai and moves further away, with the last one being something we’re sure most Chennai folks haven’t heard of.
Animal Lovers, We Found The Best Places For You To Experience WildlIfe In And Around Chennai
Chennai Snake Park Trust
Bang in the middle of the city, the Chennai Snake Park is one of the first zoos to start in the city. Established by renowned herpetologist (reptile guy) and now Padma Shri Award winner Romulus Whittaker in the 70’s, the park houses 39 species of reptiles, including endangered and rare species like the famous Indian Gharial (a crocodile with thin jaws and a pot on its mouth) and the longest python species in the world, the reticulated python. As the name suggests, there are quite a few snakes here, and the park routinely conducts informative shows about all of these animals to help break the myths surrounding them.
Guindy National Park
Madras Crocodile Bank Trust
Madras Crocodile Bank was also started by Romulus Whittaker many years ago. There’s plenty of things happening at the Croc Bank at any given time. From night safaris to feeding shows and venom extraction from poisonous snakes, you’re bound to see and learn things you’ve never known before. They’re also super volunteer-friendly, so if that’s something that excites you, do reach out to them via phone or email.
Arignar Anna Zoological Park
Commonly referred to as the Vandalur Zoo, the Arigar Anna Zoological Park was set up in 1855! Previously the zoo came under criticism for poor living conditions for the animals. Since then the zoo has revamped and now features far more open enclosures for animals without cages. There’s even a 74-acre lion park, which you can take a safari ride in. The Vandalur zoo has the most animals you can see from any entry on this list and is home to some of the most endangered and rare animals. White lions, Himalayan Black Bears, Rheas, Sambar are just some of the exotic species of animals there. In fact, to see the zoo fully, we’d recommend spending an entire day here at least.
Coming to the wildlife hotspot side of the list, Pulicat Lake is a great place to spot rare migratory birds like pelicans and flamingoes. It is India’s second-largest saline lake, and the small salt lake critters are what the visiting bird species feed on. It’s 60 km north of Chennai and is two hours away by road. Once there, however, there’s boating and plenty of bird watching to do. Do note that the season to see flamingoes is in December.
Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary
The Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is one of the smallest in the country at just 80 acres but is home to large numbers of migratory birds. Birds from Australia, Siberia and Canada, stop over here to feed on the densely populated microorganisms in the lake. With all of those birds, there’s an entire ecosystem of other animals too like snakes, wild boars and monitor lizards. The season to come here is from November to March. We’d recommend saving this till after the rains.
Pichavaram Mangroves are the second-largest mangrove forests that lay just four hours south of Chennai. The 1,100-hectare sanctuary comprises 40 small islands each filled with mangroves. The salt tolerating capability of the mangrove plant makes the entire place lush and green. With it comes to its own rich ecosystem in the form of wildlife. The supporting cast of kites, egrets, stints and other birds are best viewed as you take a boat ride through any one of the 400 water routes available. The rides are cheap, and there’s plenty to see, including a cool watchtower that you can climb up to see the whole sanctuary!
Giant Fruit Bats At The Government Museum!
The Government Museum in Egmore has an entire cave’s worth of giant fruit bats! They’ve been there for centuries now thanks to the massive trees in the museum complex. They feed on fruits like guava and apple right from the trees and in return drop the seeds which continue the cycle of life. There are thousands of them, and they spend most of the day, either sleeping or eating. Batman fans can come see the entire population take flight like in the movies around sunset. We love that the bats co-exist so harmoniously with populace around.