What Makes Chennai’s Arinagar Zoological Park the Highest Rated Zoo in the Country
The Arinagar Anna Zoological Park in Chennai has been topping the charts in many ways. It is the largest and the oldest zoo in the country. And now, it has come to light, it is also the highest rated zoo in the country!
So, what makes this zoo so special that it is shooting up the list in many parameters? Indian Masterminds spoke to Mr. TN Srinivas Reddy, Director of Arinagar Zoo, to find out.
JUDGED ON 40 INDICATORS
The Indian Forest Service officer said that the rating is on expected lines as the zoo has significantly achieved progress in various areas. Mr. Reddy, who is also the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, informed Indian Masterminds that combining all small, medium and large category, India has more than 340 zoos out of which around 160 is acknowledged by the authority. Among these, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has released Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) report in which the Arinagar zoo has bagged the top position by scoring 82% after being judged on various criteria and indicators.
The MEE was done to understand the need for collaborations in achieving the vision set for the zoos. The evaluation was done based on over 40 criteria and indicators. The major indicators include the type of enclosure, animal collection plan, facilities provided to animals, their food arrangements and the health monitoring protocol.
Another component focusing on visitors included the facilities & amenities provided to them. The next component focused on support staff like how the zoo authority takes care of the support staff, animal keepers and what kind of facilities & training are provided to them.
“Zoos were also judged on their record keeping, documentation, vet facility, animal treatment protocols, outreach programs and management of resources. Chennai Zoo has scored excellent in few indicators while in some others, it scored decent. Now that we know this, we will focus more on the aspects we are lacking in,” he said.
This is the first time MEE was conducted for zoo. The evaluation process is already in place for Tiger Reserves and protected areas. Mr. Reddy outlined the criteria in which the Arinagar Zoo scored excellent and the areas in which progress is expected.
Arinagar Zoo stood at par with others in the outreach category. It scored excellent as the efforts in creating awareness among the general public and the programs run for nature lovers, researchers, students, schools and colleges by the zoo authority have been a huge success. Mr. Reddy said, “We have established special connect with the public and specialist groups for animals. We also have a good interaction with Tamil Nadu Vet University and Advance Institute of Wildlife Conservation inside the vicinity. Along with that, we have good inter-linkage with the research facility near the state capital and other areas.”
Besides this, the zoo also scored well in providing good health care to the animals. It has an excellent veterinary hospital inside the zoo campus itself. On the record keeping front also, it scored very well.
“We have always focused on proper documentation of all the activities inside the zoo. From the daily health sheets to cleaning protocols and feed schedules, all are well documented. It has been maintained systematically only because all our staff have been following it correctly,” the officer said.
MOVING TOWARDS ZERO PLASTIC
The Arinagar Zoo attracts a large number of visitors. On weekdays, the number of visitors is around 3000, while on weekends, the number reaches up to 7-10k. But, the appreciable part is, despite such huge numbers, the zoo is kept spotlessly clean. Mr. Reddy also said that gradually they are moving to make the zoo a zero plastic zone. The protocol for collection of plastic and other wastes, including their proper disposal, is already in place.
The Arinagar Zoo also stands out for having the most interactive website, and live streaming of animals and their adoption policy. The zoo is also tapping industries to get involved in animal adoption as per their CSR. “This will help in mitigating the feed expenditure. The saved money can be invested in the maintenance of the zoo premises and other stuff,” the officer said.