Although the Zoo doesn’t actually lie in the Territory of Sikkim, and is actually located in Darjeeling, is however only at a short distance of approximately 50 kilometres from Sikkim and is a must visit spot if you want to gander at the various fauna that this zoo houses. Also known as the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park or the Darjeeling zoo, the park was opened in 1958, and covers an area of 67.56 acre and is located at an altitude of approximately 7,000 meters above sea level, making it the largest ‘High-altitude zoo’ in India.
The zoo specializes in its various captive breeding programs that mostly involve rare and endangered species, especially the ones adapted to the alpine regions like the Red Panda, Himalayan Salamander, Tibetan Wolf, and Snow Leopard. The zoo serves as the central hub for Central Zoo Authority of India’s red panda program and is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Park’s prized possessions were a pair of Siberian (Ussuri) tigers presented to the Government of India by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in 1960. Over the years famous names in the world of Conservation have been attracted to and have visited the HZP.
The zoo now contains endangered animals like snow leopards, red pandas, gorals (mountain goat) and a variety of endangered birds. Captive breeding of snow leopards was started in 1983, with Leopards which were brought to the zoo from Zurich, the United States, and Leh-Ladakh. The red panda program was started in 1994 with individuals from the Cologne Zoo, the Madrid Zoo, Belgium, and the Rotterdam Zoo.