This is the only specialized Zoo in the country and is internationally recognized for its conservation breeding programmes of Red Panda, Snow Leopards, Tibetan Wolf and other highly endangered animal species of Eastern Himalaya.
This is the first zoo in India to receive the prestigious international award "The Earth Heroes" 2014 out of over 300 zoos worldwide. This annual award is given away by Royal Bank of Scotland in collaboration with the British Government. Reason for selection for this award? It has done a superb job of conserving Himalayan animals and plantations while specializing in breeding animals that are used to Alpine conditions.
Some of the highlights of the zoo includes the conservation programs where you can see vulnerable and endangered high altitude Himalayan animals like the Tibetan Wolf, Red Panda, Snow Leopard etc all in semi natural habitats. And then there are Siberian Tigers, Yaks and lot more.
A recent study showed that the zoo has over 200 species of trees & plants, shrubs, climbers, medicinal plants etc out which there are some 60 varieties of Orchids. Some slow growing oak trees are over 100 years old. There are trees like Birch, Alder, and others that belong to Castanopsis species etc.
As you enter through the main gate, you will see some curio and souvenir shops on the left. And right in front is the Aviary, a huge circular birds cage. You can see different kinds of birds inside including Rose Ring Parakeets, Hill Mynas, Ring Necked Pheasants, Blue Gold Macaw and more. The striking ones are the two very large size birds of yellow and blue combination Macaws.
There are roads spanning out in all directions, one straight up, one on the right and one turning towards backside. Take the road straight uphill. You will see flights of stairs that are coming down along the right side of this road. Don't take the stairs. On your return, you will come down these stairs and that would be much easier.
As you take a few steps forward, look up on the hill towards right. You will see Himalayan Black Bears roaming about. If you don't see them from here, you can see them while you return down the stairs. They are usually found in the Himalayan mountain areas in Tibet, Nepal, China etc. at an altitude of 10,000 to 12,000 ft.
During the winter they come down to lower altitude areas. These black bears can weigh between 90 to 120kgs. While fattening for the hibernation during winter time, they can weigh even up to 180kg.
Walk forward and look on the left below and over the fence. You will see Yaks. Yak is a long hair bovine that can be seen in Himalayan region and also in south central Asia.
The males can weigh up to 1,000kgs and females one third of that. The age of maturity is between 3 to 4 years. The maximum life span of a Yak is about 23 years. Their status is currently vulnerable.
Among other animals that you can see on this stretch are Sambar Deer, Blue Sheep, Himalayan Tahr, Barking Deer, Goral and Musk Deer.
The zoo includes an off-display breeding center for snow leopards and red pandas. Captive breeding of snow leopards was started in 1983, with leopards which were brought to the zoo from Zurich, the United States, and Leh-Ladakh. The red panda program was started in 1994 with individuals from the Cologne Zoo, the Madrid Zoo, Belgium, and the Rotterdam Zoo. In addition to these species, the zoo is breeding the Himalayan tahr, blue sheep, Himalayan monal, grey peacock pheasant, Himalayan salamander, blood pheasant and satyr tragopan. The zoo is famous for its conservation breeding programmes of the red panda, Himalayan salamander, Tibetan wolf, and snow leopard.