Located 15 KM from Bhubaneswar, Nandankanan literally means “celestial garden” came into existence on the 29th December 1960. However strange it may seem, the zoo came up as afterthought. During the World Agriculture Fair held in New Delhi in 1960, Odisha pavilion displayed animals from Odisha in its stall. Once the fair was over, the realization dawned that the animals needed a home. After a lot of deliberations, the current site located in Jujhagarh Forest block was selected.
Unlike other zoos, Nandankanan is built right inside the forest and set amidst natural environment. The animals are housed in spacious enclosures which replicate the habitat they live in, enabling them to settle down and lead a healthy life.
Nandankanan being one of the most prominent zoological parks in the world and has many firsts to its credit.
It is most famous for its white tigers and is the host zoo for the species. Some of the other firsts are:-
It is the first zoo to breed the endangered Gharials in captivity.
School children are invited to participate in competition like sit and draw and other activities like naming of tiger cubs during the wildlife week, elephant day and wetland day.
The adjoining Botanical Park was opened to public in the year 1963. In the year 1981-1982 it was renamed as Nandankanan Zoological and Botanical Park under the recommendation of the Odisha Legislative Committee on Estimates. The botanical garden set besides the Kanjia lake houses many rare species of plants and trees and complements the zoological park on the other side of the lake perfectly.