Wrapped in the folds of the natural beauty of the forest adjacent to Chandaka- Dampara Wildlife Sanctuary, Nandankanan lies in the vicinity of Kanjia lake. Covering areas from Krishnanagar and Jujhagarh Demarcated Protected Forests (DPF), it lies close to the Baranga Railway station on Howrah- Chennai route. The name Nandankanan means “Garden of God” and brings a host of celestial images to mind. The beauty of this garden, though, is no figment of imagination as panoramic views of nature and a bustling number of animals and plants live up to the name. The zoo is enriched with 101 enclosures with 202 sub-enclosures. Not all the enclosures have open moats around them while cages have been used for another few. The captive animals at the zoo have been carefully kept away from the painfully constricted confines that one sees at other zoos in the country. It now has 120 species of animals including 40 kinds of mammals, 56 species of birds and 24 forms of reptiles. Nandankanan has a huge number of animals.
There are nearly 1,600 animals living in captivity here. 88 species of indigenous life along with 32 exotic species of animals add glory to the collection of Nandankanan Zoological Park. There are many firsts when it comes to Nandankanan. It is the only zoo in India with the credit of having Patas monkey (Erythrocebus patas), Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximus) and Openbilled Stork (Anastomus oscitans). Besides, it has the glory among the two others in India to have the Orang-Utan, Indian Pangolin, Spotted Munia and the Burmese Python. It is among the three zoos of India having Green-winged Macaws, Cinereous Vulture and the Nicobar Pigeon. Nandankanan has created its unique place for successful captive breeding of endangered gharials in 1980. Born of white tiger from normal coloured tigers has given a special place to Nandankanan over the world as one of the major host zoo for the white tigers.
The other significant breeding success of Nandankanan includes Indian pangolin (1971), Mouse deer (1972), Malayan Giant squirrel (1974), Sloth bear (1978), Mugger (1982), Himalayan Black bear (1982), Lion-tailed Macaque (1983), Brow-antlered deer (1984), Salt water crocodile (1985), Indian porcupine (1986), White necked stork (1986), Caiman crocodile (1990), Water monitor lizard (1996), Swamp deer (1998), Chimpanzee (1999), Grey heron (2000) and Siamese crocodile (2010) and many free living animals including Open billed storks.