Absolutely pathetic state of affairs at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Vandalur, Chennai!!!
Let me start with the positive thing that I noticed – Cleanliness! I should say, overall, the zoo was CLEAN ! I was really happy that it was maintained quite well. The people in general seemed to have changed a bit in a positive way or probably the authorities have gotten a bit strict. No littering around, no plastic papers and covers strewn all around, and it was quite clean. That’s where the positive impression ended !
Now, to sum up my experience in a single word, PATHETIC would be apt ! As we entered, there was a small confusion about parking the car, but that was ok. Managed to buy the tickets and proceed to the entrance. Since we weren’t carrying food, there was no problem. We were let in immediately. Others were asked to leave the food in cloak room and so on. Only entry tickets are to be purchased outside. It was obvious that there were mini-vehicles shuttling around and you could buy a ticket and get seated on one of them, It was a sort of round trip, with halts at some attractions. You are given a few minutes within which you should see it and get back to the vehicle. This was a real good option considering how big the zoo is. There was a counter and needless to say, a very long queue. You had to stand in a queue of about 50 people to get any information as there was no separate counters for enquiry. I stood there all the way until I got my turn to ask them when was the earliest time for availability of mini-vehicle. It was around 11:45AM then and I was told tickets were available only for 2:00PM slot, nothing earlier. So obviously so many bookings. I walked out because that would mean a really long wait. The next counter was not so busy and it was the Lion Safari. I enquired from them and the next slot was 3:30PM. Sounded crazy ! They obviously had no clue about the supply vs demand, or were just not bothered. Meanwhile you could see these guys dressed in khaki, apparently drivers of these mini-vehicles trying to woo some people in the queue. Looked like an offer for a earlier slot in the mini-vehicle for some cash payment, also called as bribe. I wasn’t lucky to get that option either. So having wasted for about 40 minutes in the queue with two kids and wife beside me, decided to go to check out the bicycle rentals.
There was a counter with a single guy who was writing down something on papers. Absolutely reluctant to answer any question, all that he said was “people were waiting”, “cycles have gone out”, and “it will take time”. No more information on how long is the waiting time, any reservations? This fellow had a strong feeling that he was doing an obligation to all the visitors. There were a lot of bicycles, at least about 30 of them, tied up and covered with sheets and when I asked what these were, he said that was another person renting out and he was on leave 😛
So another 20 minutes wasted, and then we decided we did not have any other option other than walking ! We went for a while and then spotted a mini-battery vehicle different from the other ones that I saw earlier. Only few of them in that and so assumed it much be some Zoo staff/VIPs. There is no dearth of VIPs in our place. After about an hour and a half, we were totally drained in hot sun. Didn’t manage to see many animals. In fact, they were as tired as we were and almost all of them were hiding somewhere in the shade. So no luck there either! It was really bad and we began to walk back. Then I was told that this battery vehicle was a family vehicle and it was possible to rent it separately at the same counter. These guys do not have any information displayed anywhere near the queues. When you ask them, they do not give any alternate options, and how the hell are you expected to know something like this was available? You are willing to spend, but do not know what is available 😀 Beautiful!!!
We managed to come back to the starting point. I was curious to ask them when this family vehicle is available, but my son was more than eager to get out of the place and was absolutely not interested even if they took him on a plane 🙂 It was so hot and we were so tired. We left the place, having partially seen the zoo !
Having a rough idea of the facilities available, I plan to visit this place again in December when it is not so hot and then hopefully will have a BETTER experience than this one !
You want to see and experience the ‘Government staff’ attitude, this is the right place. Each person will exhibit the same body language – ‘Yes! It is my father’s zoo’ 😉