Once upon a time, there existed the Katraj Snake Park. Then, slowly the park expanded it horizons by bringing in other animals and expanded into the Rajiv gandhi zoologicl park also known colloquially as the Katraj Zoo. The zoo also has a lake within it premises.
Route to go to the Pune Zoo (From Magarpatta): Go to the Solpur road, keep going towards Swargate, at the swargate signal, turn left towards Katraj. Keep going straight. After a while (a long while), you should see the zoo on your left.
Go to the Pune Zoo only under the following conditions:
If you have never been to any half-decent zoo before. One can literally count the number of animals in the zoo.
If you want to have your morning walk/jog in the presence of few dozen deers. With an entrance fee of 5 rupees, it is the best bet for a good run amongst a bit of greenery. Of course, avoid anytime after the mornings, as the place gets thronged with whoever has 5 rupees change in the pocket.
If you love to see deers and more deers. The ratio of deers to other animals is around 92.5 to 1. Maybe, other animals were obtained under special packages such as buy a tiger, get 20 deers free.
If you want to test the limit of your big zoom lens or to test your ophthalmologist’s claim that you can identify objects at farway distances after your recent eye operation. I have a 200 mm lens and it proved to be extremely difficult to get decent shots of the animals. It is easy to recognise animals if they move around. Imagine a bear lying still around a 100 m away..Half the crowd was playing a trasure hunt trying to spot the location of the bear in the compound. This is the first zoo i have seen where the elephant is kept around half a km away from the viewing area. We could get to see the trunk and tail of the elephant (at least that is what we thought those were!)
if you are studying any course in design and want to get examples of how not to design things. The design of the pune zoo is a marvel in itself. When you enter the zoo, you can either turn right or left. On the left, you will find monkeys, snakes and other smaller creatures. The board towards the right says “Elephant” prominently. Akshara is very fond of elephants and hence we turned right. Bad decision! We walked on for almost 200 metres and were yet to come across the first animal/cage! The road on the right goes past lot of enclosures for almost 1.5 kms. Each enclosure is at least a 100 m apart and every second enclosure has deers. Unfortunately, the elephant was the last. But, we were ok. Akshara didnt seem to mind seeing a deer every second second! Then came the bad news! The only way to get back to the start/gate of the zoo was to walk back the entire 1.5 kms as the road finished at the lake and it looked like swimming across the lake was not an option. Maybe, the zoo authorities wanted to ensure that you didnt miss any deer. This proved to spoil the day as my parents. already tired from the long walk had to now walk back. There was mini-tram service and that looked to provide an easy way. But, this was not a hop-on-hop-off service. It took a group of people around the zoo and then took them back. With just a few trams and few hundred people, the waiting time at the start is something not worht mentioning.
Some photographs from our trip.
Akshara didn’t seem to mind, as there was always some animal to watch and she was being carried or driven around in a pram.
But, even in such a zoo, i found few takeaways. There were boards kept near many enclosures which explained the roots of the names of animals and also the differences between antelopes/deers and turtles/tortoises. The difference between turtles and tortoises was a cool thing to know.
There is also the boating facility on the katraj lake. Surprisingly, there were no life jackets or life guards around.
The highlight of the zoo was this enclosure which had graves for the dodo and the Indian Cheetah and a proposed one for the Tiger. The message was strong and direct. I stayed next to this place for a fewminutes and it was funny listening to the comments of people ranging from “Oh, this must be the place where they bury dead animals” to “Oh, a tiger died recently?”.