History of Sakkarbaug
For a long period of about eight decades from 1867 to 1947, administration of Nawabs of Junagdh represented by the Zoological Superintendent used to manage the Sakkarbaug Zoo. After independence and merger of the Junagadh State with the Indian Union, this Zoo was managed by the Zoo Superintendent, under the supervision of the Education Department and subsequently under the supervision of the District Forest Officer, Junagadh under the Greater Bombay State. Since the time of reorganization of the present day Gujarat State in the year 1960, the Gujarat Forest Department has been Managing this zoo.
During the year 1945-46, total animal collection of this Zoo was 144 including 9 Asiatic Lions, 6 African Lions, 4 Tigers. 1 Leopard, 1 African Cheetah, Rattle, Otter, etc. During the year 1960-61, the animal collection of this Zoo had increased to 127mammals, 2 crocodiles, 29 fish, and 45 birds. Mammals included 15 Asiatic Lions, 2 African Lions, 2 Tigers, 4 Leopards, etc. From such a beginning, the Zoo has now gained the status of a Major Zoo with total animal collection of more than 850 animals with additional responsibility of providing services for plan breeding of endangered wild animal species, wildlife health care for the Gir Sanctuary and National Park, Zoo interpretation and nature education.
The Sakkarbaug Zoo, established in 1863, is one of the oldest Zoos of India. It is as old as the concept of modern Zoos in India; serving mankind for conservation, education and knowledge – based entertainment for more than 140 years now.
Collections of wild animals for entertainment is a very old activity pursued by man. However, collection of wild animals for the purpose of education, ex-situ conservation, captive (conservation) breeding of endangered animals and public display in modern Zoos which started with the establishment of the Zoo at Viena in 1752 A.D., during the time of renaissance, along with the museum and natural-history museums for the storage and display of works of art, scientific specimens or other objects of cultural and scientific importance.
The legend and popular belief has it that the name sakkarbaug has originated from a garden having sweet water well. (Sakkar-sugar, Baug-garden)
Spread over about 198 Hectares of sylvn landscape in the foothills of Girnar at Junagadh, the Sakkarbaug zoo houses more than 850 [January 2001] wild animals of 71 species. It serves to the curiosity and number of visitors, the Central Zoo Authority of India has designated the Sakkarbaug Zoo as under one of the 15 Large and one of the 57 important zoos out of about more than 350 animals collections in India.
One of the country’s oldest and largest zoos, Sakkarbaug Zoological Park (SBZP) in Junagadh, is all set to add amenities to attract more visitors, besides adding new animals like giraffe, cheetahs and zebra.
“New animals like giraffe, zebra, and African cheetahs will arrive soon at Sakkarbaug Zoo. Moreover, we will soon carry out renovation of a historical building located inside the zoo campus,” said A P Singh, chief conservator of forests, (wildlife), Junagadh circle.
He said that they also plan to provide pick-up facility from hotels to the zoo for foreign visitors. Besides this, new amenities like baby care centre, cloak room, cafeteria and new toilets will be set up in the coming days, Singh added.
The forest department that manages the Sakkarbaug Zoo will also send its veterinary doctors for training in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London. Also, areas outside the zoo will be developed in association with the Junagadh Municipal Corporation (JMC) to make a parking area, zoo entry point area and other sections of the zoo.
Sakkarbaug Zoo has already sent its 20-year master plan to the Central Zoo Authority with outlines of its future projects and conservation of various species of animals. According to forest department officials, during 2015-16 over 26.49 lakh people visited the zoo.