India::Botanical Garden and Zoo
The Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden is situated in Shibpur, Howrah near Kolkata. The gardens exhibit a wide variety of rare plants and a total collection of over 12,000 specimens spread over 109 hectares. The gardens were founded in 1786 by Colonel Robert Kyd, an army officer of the British East India Company, primarily for the purpose of identifying new plants of commercial value, such as teak, and growing spices for trade. Joseph Dalton Hooker says of this Botanical Garden that “Amongst its greatest triumphs may be considered the introduction of the tea-plant from China … the establishment of the tea-trade in the Himalaya and Assam is almost entirely the work of the superintendents of the gardens of Calcutta and Seharunpore.
The zoo was formally opened in Alipore – a posh Kolkata suburb, and inaugurated on 1 January 1876 by Edward VII, then Prince of Wales. (Some reports place the inauguration on an alternate date of 27 December 1875). The initial stock consisted of the private menagerie of Carl Louis Schwendler (1838 – 1882), a German electrician who was posted in India for a feasibility study of electrically lighting Indian Railway stations. Gifts were also accepted from the general public. The initial collection consisted of the following animals: African buffalo, Zanzibar ram, domestic sheep, four-horned sheep, hybrid Kashmiri goat, Indian antelope, Indian gazelle, sambar deer, spotted deer and hog deer.
It is probably best known as the home of the now expired Aldabra giant tortoise Adwaita, who was reputed to have been over 250 years old when he died in 2006.