There is one big lesson to learn from the Arignar Anna Zoological Park, the ever-popular zoo in Vandalur, on the outskirts of Chennai: If there is a will there is a way.
Yes, the zoo has been able to maintain a plastic-free and litter-free zone in its environs. How is it able to achieve this? By stopping people at the very entrance and making them dispose of their plastic bags.
Word has also spread that the Vandalur zoo does not permit plastic within its premises and visitors seem only too willing to abide by that rule.
The main reason in banning plastics in the zoo is that they might find their way into the animal cages and be consumed by the hapless beings. This could cause severe discomfort and even lead to the death of some of the rare breeds of animals found in this spectacular zoo. Another equally important reason is that plastic litter destroys the green environs of the zoological park.
Once the visitors get their first lesson on caring for animals, they are all set to enjoy the jungle-like atmosphere of the zoo, nestled at the foot of a hill.
Since it is spread over a sprawling area, one should be prepared to walk to explore the animal and bird kingdoms.
The animal section has barking deer, Indian gaur (bison), hog deer, brow-antlered deer and sloth bear. There are also jackals, wild asses, and it is amazing to note that the Himalayan black bear weighs 180 kg in winter and 100 kg in summer!
Another interesting area is where you find the crocodiles and hippopotamus.
The majestic walk of the lion and tiger, of course, behind bars, is a visual treat. The zoo has been planning a night safari – like in Singapore – for a long time. Though it was to take off recently, it has been put on hold for reasons unknown.
The birds section – showcasing some colourful varieties like painted stork, white ibis, spoonbill, little egret, ruddy shelduck, grey pelican, emu, night heron, barheaded goose and other birds – makes one envy the beauty of the winged inhabitants who have enough space to fly about.
Like the rest of the zoo, the aquarium entertains young and old visitors with its wide variety of fish and aquatic animals.
It is not only people from Chennai who throng the zoo, but also visitors from different parts of the state and country. For instance, V Reshma from Trichy said she enjoyed walking about the zoo undisturbed and enjoying Nature in a safe environment.