MEE-ZOO report: Chennai’s Vandalur secures top rank among India’s large zoos

The Arignar Anna Zoological Park near Chennai, popularly referred to as the Vandalur Zoo, has secured top rank in India among the large zoo categories in the Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE-ZOO) report 2022 conducted by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Currently, there are 147 recognized zoos in the country, categorized as large (17), medium (23), small (33), mini zoos (60) and rescue centres (14). In this phase of MEE-ZOO, zoos from the large and medium categories were selected for evaluation, of which 39 underwent the evaluation process, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) noted.

The zoos were evaluated by a committee of 15 independent experts based on six elements – context, planning, input, process, output and outcomes, officials said. In the large zoo category, Vandalur Zoo topped the chart in three of the six elements, including planning, input and output. It secured the highest MEE score of 82 per cent and was rated ‘Very Good’. It is followed by Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens in Karnataka and Sakkarbaug Zoological Park in Gujarat.

In the medium zoo category, Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park in West Bengal secured the highest MEE score of 83 per cent and was rated ‘Very Good’, followed by Alipore Zoological Garden in West Bengal and Madras Crocodile Bank Trust/Centre for Herpetology.

The report suggested a couple of actions to be taken at the Vandalur zoo, including that it must consider options for green energy, rainwater harvesting/water recycling and alternate sources of generation of energy. It was also suggested that as part of the ongoing conservation breeding programmes, the zoo may initiate planning for the release of animals into the wild.