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Vandalur Zoo near Chennai wins top rank in MEE-ZOO list

Aditya the chimpanzee in Vandalur Zoo who turned one in June this year (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@VandalurZoo)

It was a matter of great pride for Tamil Nadu as one of its zoos – the Arignar Anna Zoological Park or Vandalur Zoo near Chennai – was ranked number one by the Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Zoos in India 2022 (MEE-ZOO) report in the large category.

MEE-ZOO was conducted by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Evaluation of the zoos was done by 15 independent experts who considered six elements. These were planning, context, process, input, output and outcomes on which 40 headline indicators or questions were based.

Vandalur Zoo took the top spot in three of the six elements – planning, input and output and secured the highest MEE score of 82% and was rated as Very Good. The second and third spots were taken by Karnataka’s Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens and Gujarat’s Sakkarbaug Zoological Park, scoring 80% and 76% respectively and were rated as Very Good.

West Bengal’s Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park and Alipore Zoological Garden took the two top slots in the medium category while Madras Crocodile Bank Trust/Centre for Herpetology came third.

Red Panda in Padmaja Naidu Himalayan
A rare Red Panda in Darjeeling’s Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@Saket_Badola)

Apart from rating the zoos, the report has also come up with suggestions. For instance, for Vandalur Zoo it said that options must be considered for green energy; harvesting of rainwater and recycling of water; and alternate sources of generation of energy.

On its ongoing conservation breeding programmes, the report said the zoo may initiate plans to release the animals into the wild.

In India at present there are 147 recognized zoos of which 17 are large, 23 medium, 60 mini and 14 rescue centres. The present report of MEE-ZOO pertains to large and medium categories and only 39 were evaluated.