The Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park popularly known as Rajiv Gandhi Zoo is a famous animal sanctuary located in Katraj district in the heart of Pune City, Maharashtra. The Zoo is spreading over an area of 130 acres and bustling with innumerable species of reptiles, mammals and birds. The Indian Leopard, White tiger, sloth bears and Indian rock python are the major species that predominantly found in the Zoo along with some extinct animals like barking dear, black bucks also visible in the Park. The entire Park has been categorized into three parts namely animal orphanage, a snake park and a zoo. The whole park is overseen by Pune Municipal Corporation.
Initially Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park was created in 1770 by Madhavrao Peshwe but it was used as a private menagerie. In the year 1953, Pune Municipal Corporation took the responsibility to rejuvenate the location and established seven acres Peshwe Park. After couple of decades later, Mr. Neelam Kumar, the first director of the Zoo set up Katraj Snake Park with the help of Pune Municipal Corporation. This Snake Park now inducted into the main Park. Finally in the year 1997, the Corporation started developing a new zoo near the Katraj region in an attempt to make it more scientific and modern zoo under the guidance of Central Zoo Authority of India. This one is named as Rajiv Gandhi Zoo and initially only contained animals like spotted dear, black bucks and various reptiles. Since then the park has been a safe haven to many wounded and orphaned animals.
The Rajiv Gandhi Zoo is really a home to many species and extinct animals too. The park has been blessed with famous White tiger locally known as Tanaji. In addition, numerous mammals like monkeys, sambhars, elephants, peafowl, barking dear etc. often visible in the Jungle. Some major reptiles are Indian rock python,cobra, vipers, Indian crocodiles and amphibians like Indian star tortoise also feature in the complex eco-system of Rajiv Gandhi Zoo. The park is also rich in bird life and flourishing with wide diversity of water birds. Peacock, water Duck, Hornbills, kingfisher, flycatcher and Asian paradise flycatcher are the most notable species and often found in the Jungle. Apart from birds, the park has recorded 22 species of snakes and 10 other species. India King Cobra is largest species among snakes that grows upto thirteen feet and equally venomous.
On recent the park authority has decided to bring some more species in order to boost its wildlife and ecosystem. The animals to be inducted in the zoo are jungle cat, mouse deer, nilgai, fox, hyena and barking deer etc.
The Rajiv Gandhi Zoo Park is located a little away from the main city and tourists can access the Park via Pune satara Highway as it bypassed the location. Katraj is the nearest Bus depot and from there visitors can available buses that go to the Park.