The Yangon Zoological Gardens (Yangon Zoo) is the oldest and the second largest zoo in Myanmar. Located immediately north of Downtown Yangon near Kandawgyi Lake, the 69.25-acre (280,200 m2) recreational park also includes a museum of natural history, an aquarium and an amusement park.
With a collection of nearly 200 species and 1100 species, the zoo draws nearly 2.2 million visitors annually. The zoo was operated by the Forest Department under the Ministry of Forestry until April 2011, and is now operated by a private firm. Yangon Zoo is open from 8 am to 6 pm daily.
The first collection of wild animals in Yangon began in 1882 in connection with Phayre's Museum, then situated at the present site of Yangon General Hospital. Funded by the public donation of 240,000 kyats, construction started at the present site near the Royal Lake (Kandawgyi Lake) in 1901.
The newly established 42-acre (0.17 km2) zoological gardens was formally opened as the Victoria Memorial Park and Zoological Gardens in honor of Queen Victoria. The major attraction at the opening was the white elephant of King Thibaw, the last king of Burma, whom the British had exiled to India only 20 years earlier. In 1908 the Victoria Memorial Park and Zoological Gardens Act was passed giving the establishment a legal recognition.
The zoo was vandalized and looted during World War II. In 1951, the Burmese government changed the name to the Rangoon Zoological Gardens and Parks. In 1962, the zoo's area was enlarged to the present size of 69.25 acres (280,200 m2). The enlarged compound opened doors to new attractions: a museum of natural history on 4 May 1966, an amusement park on 7 October 1997, and an aquarium on 1 October 1998. The aquarium is operated by the Department of Fisheries.