GANGTOK ZOO GUIDE
Why Should I Visit
If you’re a wildlife enthusiast but you don’t have the time to explore the rich fauna of the state, then the Himalayan Zoological Park in Sikkim is your best bet. Spread over a massive 205 hectares of land, the zoo in Gangtok is teeming with a wide variety of wildlife that is usually difficult to spot in the wild. Built at an elevation ranging from 6500 feet to 8000 feet, the fact that the zoo authorities allow these animals to remain in a semi-natural habitat is worth appreciating. The zoo is maintained by the Forests, Environment & Wildlife Management Department under the Government of Sikkim.
The zoo is home to a rich variety of animals including a bunch of endangered species. Himalayan Black Bear, Clouded Leopard, Common Leopard, Leopard Cat, Tibetan Wolf, Himalayan Palm Civets, Large Indian Civets, Gorals, Barking Deer, Serow, Himalayan Tahr, Yaks and Porcupine are some of the animals at the zoo. Apart from these, the zoo sees several species of birds such as Satyr Tragopan, Golden Pheasant, Lady Amherst Pheasant, Kalij and Silver Pheasant.
How To Get There
Located at a distance of about 6 km from Gangtok city, the zoo is walking distance from Ganesh Tok, a popular view point in the city. Hire a cab to get here or take a leisurely walk from town.
When Should I Land Up
The zoo is open every day from 9 am to 4 pm except on Thursdays. A nominal fee is charged at the entrance. The best time to visit is between the months of February to May and mid-September to December.
THE FINER DETAILS
Ever wondered what animals were Shifu and Tylon from the Kung Fu Panda? Shifu was actually a Red Panda and the villain Tai Lung, a snow leopard. Both these animals are in fact the star attractions at the Himalayan Zoological Park in Gangtok.
Endemic to the Eastern Himalayas and Southwest China, the Red Pandas are the last of the Ailuridae family in the animal kingdom. Highly territorial in nature, the little animals prefer solitude except during the mating season. They are mostly nocturnal in nature which is why spotting them in the wild totally depends on your luck. With a mere population of 10,000 the Red Panda finds itself in the highly endangered IUCN List of 2008. However, they have proven to be quite adaptive to living in captivity and several zoos worldwide have been successful in breeding them.
The most elusive of all the big cats, the Snow Leopard is one of the most difficult animals to spot in the wild. The habitat of these solitary animals spreads across the mountains of Central and South Asia. Listed as ‘vulnerable’ in IUCN’s List of Threatened Species, the worldwide population of the snow leopard is estimated to be less than 10,000 and it is declining at a 10% rate every year.
Respect the privacy of the animals. Do not try to feed the animals. Do not disturb the animals by talking or laughing loudly. Avoid littering and follow the designated trails meant for visitors.