Located in the heart of Mysore city, the zoo is a very popular tourist attraction. It's arguably the second sought after attraction in the city after Mysore Palace.
There are many reasons for its popularity. The location is an obvious plus point from a itinerary point. More importantly this is a sprawling zoo with a great variety of exotic and rare animals. The animals are let in a natural habitat like environment. For the visitors it is a joyous place to explore in a picnic style.
Mysore zoo is one of the oldest zoo in the country. This was started way back in 1892 as a private zoo attached to the palace. Though it is popularly called "Mysore Zoo", the official name is Shri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, named after its founding maharaja Shri Chamarajendra Wodeyar.
So what do you get to see in Mysore zoo. Leaving the usual suspects apart, this is the only zoo in India to have a Gorilla. The zoo also houses Chimpanzee. The huge trenches draws big crowd.
Other exotic animals of Mysore zoo include Giraffes, Zebras, White Deer, African Elephants, Bears, Porcupines, Rhinoceros, Tapir ,Otters etc.
The Indian species of note includes Gaur, Bisons, Nilgai, Spotted Deer, Black Bucks, Bears, Tiger, Jakal, Barking Deer, Panther, White (albino) Tiger,Tigers, Lions, Leopards and a great number of elephants.
There is a massive aviary (a netted enclosure) with a bridge passing right through the center. Visitors can walk through these enclosures and observe the birds closely. Reach the aviary point early as the entry closes by 5pm though zoo closes by 5.30pm. (see Mysore Zoo Timings for the tour itinerary suggestions and tips).The bird species inside the aviary includes Spoon Bill, Pelican, Painted Stork.
You can also see a great variety of birds like White and Blue Peacocks, Silver and Gold Peasant, Horn Bill; the flightless Emu and Ostrich; brightly coloured Flamingos; the largest bird of India the Sarus Cranes; Love Birds, various types of Geese, Ducks, Parrots,Vultures, Eagles and so on.
The reptile section has a large number of cobras, King Cobra, Python and even the star studded turtles.
The zoo successfully runs what is calls the animal adoption program. The general public are encouraged to adopt the animals for a stipulated period ( typically 1-2 years). The adoption cost of various animals are prefixed. The adopter name are duration of adoption is displayed at each enclosures. Many organizations and individual animal lovers patrons the program.
Another important aspect of the zoo is it is a 'No Plastic' zone. If you carry those "use and throw" snack packets, they will ask to transfer to the paper bags provided. This is the first thing they will do as you cross the zoo entrance.
It takes anything from 2 hours to visit this sprawling zoo. The animal enclosures are large and scattered quite apart. You'll be walking many kilometers before completing the tour. If that looks like a challenge, there is a battery operated buggy service that makes a round trip. But this zoo is best enjoyed on foot.
Towards the end there are some snack stalls and a souvenir shop.
Keep in mind this zoo gets huge crowds, especially during the weekends and other holiday seasons. The problem is the rather long queues at the ticket counter and at the entrance gate during the peak seasons. Like mentioned earlier, the inside of the zoo is sprawling that can accommodate large number of visitors.
The zoo is at a short distance from Mysore Palace , on the way to Chamundi Hills. There is a large parking area for vehicles in front of the zoo.
Mysore Zoo Timings: (see the link for tour suggestions)
8.30am to 5.30 pm on all days except Tuesdays.
Adults: Rs50 , Child (5 to 10 yrs): Rs 20, Still Camera: Rs20 , Video Camera : Rs150