I couldn't recall the last time I went to a zoo, though I could recall that when I went to Anna Zoological Park in Chennai as a kid, I scaled the railings and almost jumped into the territory of a bunch of Zebras.
I have heard rumors about Hyderabad's Nehru Zoo as the largest zoo in the country and we (my wife, myself and a friend of hers) decided to go find out how good it is. We went to the zoo and found out that a safari ride is available at an additional fee of Rs.25/-. So, we thought we would check that out.
As it was located at the far side of the zoo, on the way to the safari ticketing counter, we got to watch a white tiger located right next to a mob of deers, and a herd of elephants all at a very close range. The white tiger was especially a treat to watch. The tiger could get a clear view of the mob of spotted deers and kept swimming in the waters trying to find its way past the wall that protected the deers.
At the ticket counter, we found that the safari is available not just the expense of Rs.25/- but also at about one hour of time in the queue. When we finally got into the armoured van and ventured into the woods past the iron gates, we found that the lions and tigers were kept inside a caged anyway! All that hyped up fantasies about free roaming wild animals like those in the Discovery channel came to a very disappointing end. I later heard that the animals received the treatment because somebody ventured into the safari range and got himself killed! It be sad if it was true. The animals get punished for the carelessness of the dead man and the zoo authorities!
But the Bisons and a lone bear were let roam free in the range and the curious bear with a smiling face kept following the van for quite sometime giving us a enough time to watch at a very close range! Some return-on-investment! The safari lasted about 20 minutes after which we got to see two really big turtles. This is probably the largest I have seen. Apart from that the other residents of the zoos were all the usual suspects. Jaguar, (non-white) Tiger, chimps, orangs and other kinds of monkeys, and a few wild birds.
Hyderabad seems to be able to maintain parks better than other cities I have visited, and this zoo was no exception with plenty of well maintained greenery.
Overall, the zoo is a good day's off, worth the money you spend on entry ticket (Rs. 20/-). But safari can be safely skipped. The one-and-a-half hour saved on it would be well spent on covering the rest of the zoo (We had to skip the reptile section) and enjoying the nature over a cup of coffee.