Set within the state capital's lush Botanical gardens, the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo is an example of a zoo trying to do the right thing. According to its pamphlet, many of the animals were kept in small, dingy cages as recently as 1996, and were simply there as exhibits. But an effort to change the zoo (it declares itself to be the oldest in India) from being a place of "unlimited animals and limited facilities" to "limited animals and adequate facilities" is working. A zoo animal hospital has been built and the stated objective is to conserve species endemic to the local area, from the coast to the Western Ghats.
There are still some anomalies: I'm not sure how often you see zebras, hippos and ostriches in the wilds of India. And I can't understand the reason for holding twelve kites (including the regal Brahminy kite) in one smallish cage; these birds can be seen on any day in (practically) any part of Kerala. I saw a rather forlorn "Jungle cat" (a bit bigger than your average-sized moggie) in a small cave-like den, with no trees or foliage.
On the other hand, the big cats (tigers, leopard and asiatic lions) had large, landscaped enclosures as well as smaller feeding cages: I watched one leopard gently headbutt its mate (mother? sibling?) before falling over and purring, just like any Jellicle cat at home; a lioness lay on her front licking her paw and passing it over her face, with eyes closed, while next to her another female stretched out and yawned; two young tigers prowled in their feeding areas, and as the keeper walked round the back of the cage, they play-stalked him. To my untrained eye these animals looked pretty content.
The zoo is full of mature trees and is well shaded. The landscaping and planting is fantastic.
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