Allen Forest Zoo is a zoo in Kanpur
, the industrial hub of Uttar Pradesh
in North India
. It is the largest open green space in Kanpur. Originally a natural habitat for fauna, it is one of the few zoos in India which were created in a natural forest. The Allen Forest Zoo is located about two kilometers from the city’s center. In earlier colonial records it is mentioned as being close to Nawabganj, some distance away from Bithoor
. The zoo is an oasis of green, a natural lake, and ancient trees, and encompasses the largest land area of any zoological garden in Asia
The zoo is open for visitors on all days from 9 to 4.30, barring Monday. Given the vast spread, private four-wheeler vehicles are also allowed inside the zoo on payment of extra charges. Plastic bags are strictly banned inside zoo, even water is provided via coolers and not bottles.
The Zoological Park in Kanpur, (Cawnpore, Manchester of Asia, in British colonial period) was the brainchild of one Botanist Sir Allen, a member of the British Indian Civil Service. Sir Allen wanted to open the zoo in a natural forest, but his plans were stuck in bureaucratic red-tape and did not materialize. When the zoo was opened in 1971 by the government of independent India, it was named after him.
Mammals at the zoo include White Asian tigers, Asiatic lions, cheetah, leopard, jaguar, hyena, black bear, grizzly bear, sloth bear, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, monkeys, langoor, baboons, Musk deer, deer, and antelope. Chimpanzees (one of them named Chhajju, around 26 years of age) and orangutans (named Mangal, aged over 30 years) have their own island. Some monkeys and deer are allowed to roam outside the enclosures as natural inhabitants of the zoo.
Amphibians at the zoo include Indian gharial. The Lion at the zoo died of an unknown disease during the month of November 2010. Talks are on to bring a new Lion from another zoo in exchange of an animal. Recently a new tigress has been brought in the zoo.
The zoo houses a botanical garden with a collection of some of the country’s rare species of plants that is dotted with sylvan lakes. The zoo grounds are also professionally maintained by forest conservationists, and it records large attendance from all age groups and communities in Kanpur. It is a popular destination for picnics, nature walks, and outdoor recreation, as well as teaching school students about natural habitats, environmental issues, and responsible eco-friendly living.
A rainwater lake is the centre of attraction at Allen Forest, and visitors can see hundreds of deer grazing in open savannah-like land without fear of any predator.
The Aviary includes birds from all over the World
, including Ostrich from Africa
and Emu from Australia
and New Zealand
, parrots, crane, parakeets, various Indian birds as well as European fowl, and Latin American birds.
Night creatures are housed in a separate building.
The zoo includes an aquarium.
There are life size sculptures of pre-historic dinosaurs.
The zoo included a veterinary hospital that treats up to 1,400 animals at a time, including hyenas, jaguars, and elephants that are brought into the zoo, usually after bad encounters with humans. Vehicles are allowed inside the zoo, but there is extra charge for this. Plastic water bottles and polythene bags are banned inside the park. Although photography is permitted, the zoo discourages visitors from feeding animals except in designated areas.