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Lion safari restarted at Chennai’s Vandalur Zoo after three years draws large crowds

For resuming the popular lion safari in Vandalur Zoo, one lion from Baneerghatta Biological Park in Bengaluru and one lioness from Lucknow Zoo were obtained on exchange basis

Chennai’s popular spot for local and national tourists, the Arignar Anna Zoological Park or Vandalur Zoo has resumed its star attraction – the lion safari – a major crowd puller after a gap of three years.

The Tamil Nadu Forest Minister M. Mathiventhan, launched the safari along with the state-of-the-art veterinary care unit in the zoo.

The zoo boats of two safaris – lion and deer – and these are spread over 147 acres of scrub jungle.

The lion safari had come to a halt because of the Corona virus epidemic in March 2020 with most of the lions getting infected. Two lions died because of that while two more healthy lions died of other different ailments bringing down the total count to nine lions.

Vandalur Zoo Lion Safari3
The newly constructed operation theatre at the Zoo’s veterinary care unit which is well-equipped with advanced machinery and equipment

As reported by India Narrative in April this year, the Zoo authorities had worked out plans to resume the lion safari and the steps they initiated towards this.

Through the animal exchange programme, the Vandalur Zoo obtained a few lions. One male lion was brought from Karnataka’s Bannerghatta Biological Park in Bengaluru and one lioness was brought from Lucknow zoo. In return, two tigers were given by the Vandalur Zoo.

Another reason for bringing in new lions was to improve the genetic pool. Lack of genetic diversity was cited as an important reason for losing many animals in the zoo.

With the new lions coming, the safari area now houses seven big cats. Among these three are male while the remaining four are females.

Visitors apart from seeing the King of the jungle from very close can also enjoy the deer safari. The area where this safari is conducted houses a large number of sambar, spotted and barking deer.

To make the visitors’ wild safari experience more adventurous and immersive, the Park authorities have taken steps to lay a separate route dedicated only to the safari. This enables the visitors to pass through dense woodland to reach the safari.

With a view to make the safari safe and secure, the protection wall and the fencing have been repaired. Apart from this, the percolation pond and the water holes have been renovated while air-conditioned buses have been bought for people to enjoy the safari in complete comfort and ease.

With a view to avoid wasting time waiting in a queue for buying tickets, the Zoo has also introduced a QR code-based ticketing system enabling hassle-free entry for visitors. To ensure a seamless visit, the QR system will be operational for entry, vehicle parking, using battery-operated vehicles and the entry to lion and deer safari.

Vandalur Zoo Lion Safari QR Ticketing
The Forest Minister of Tamil Nadu, M. Mathiventhan, inaugurating the QR code=based ticketing system

The Minister also inaugurated a newly constructed operation theatre at the Zoo’s veterinary care unit. This theatre is well-equipped with advanced machinery and equipment that will enable the veterinarians to handle emergency situations better for all types of animals, including small ones like birds and the large ones like lions and tigers.

Keeping in mind the facilities at the Zoo, a pair of Malayan Giant Squirrels that have been seized at Trichy airport recently and found to be medically unfit will be brought to Vandalur for care and treatment.

Also read: Chennai’s Vandalur Zoo to start post-Covid revival with popular lion safari