The zoo was actually established to conserve and preserve Himalayan fauna. I had read that Padmaja Naidu Zoo had a breeding program for snow leopards and this was my reason for wanting to visit the zoo. Sadly, the program was inactive when we visited and we only saw one very unhappy snow leopard. The program was unsuccessful due to the disturbance of visitors and the leopards were moved. However the zoo is a well-known center for captive breeding of other endangered species and draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
I was very disappointed with the animal enclosures. The cages were too small - and the large cats especially - paced aimlessly. I found it to be a little distressing and surprising for a zoo that has the types of programs that this one does.
The setting was very green, peaceful and clean(!) and there were some wonderful animals including Tibetan wolves, red pandas, Himalyan bears, and other rare alpine animals. India's only Siberian tigers are here as well. The wolves were very playful and the red pandas were very cute.
If in Darjeeling, it's worth a stop to see some animals that you might not otherwise see. Hopefully the snow leopards will be back.
The zoo is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Entrance fee is INR 100, with an additional small charge for cameras.
Address: Off Jawahar Rd. W
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