The Indian Board for Wildlife felt in the year 1952 to have a zoo in the national capital of the country to provide recreation to people at large. Accordingly, an ad-hoc committee of some prominent nature lovers of Delhi, including Smt. Indira Gandhi, was constituted under the Chairmanship of Chief Commissioner to formulate a proposal for establishment of Zoological Park for Delhi. Mr M.E.F.Bowring Welsh, of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, was appointed as its Secretary. The committee met on 9th September, 1953 and approved the site between Purana Quila and Humayun's Tomb for the purpose. It was also decided that the Central Government will develop the park and hand it over in running condition to the Delhi Government since wildlife was managed by Forest Department of the Delhi Government. An official from Indian Forest Service Mr. N.D.Bachkheti was assigned the duty on 1st October 1955 to setup this Zoo.
Major Weinmann, Director of the Ceylon Zoological Garden, Colombo was invited to help draw a co-ordinated plan for development of the Park. He submitted a report alongwith a preliminary plan. As he was not available for continued consultations, it was decided to procure the services of Mr Carl Hagenbeck, owner of the famous Animal Park at Hamburg, West Germany, who gave the idea of open moat enclosures.
He presented a preliminary report in March 1956 and provided a general layout plan of waterways, roads & paths, animal enclosures and sewage system. The plans were amended in the light of Ceylon Zoological Garden local conditions and topography of the ground. The Government of India approved this amended plan on 31st December, 1956.
By the end of 1959, construction had sufficiently advanced. The roads, waterways, moats, ponds and animal houses had been constructed over the Northern half of the area, lawns laid and plantation done. With the announcement of establishment of a Zoological Park at Delhi, gifts of animals started coming from State Government and individuals. They were kept in temporary enclosures around Azimganj Sarai, an enclosed square courtyard built for temporary halt for travellers during the Mughal days. The collection comprising of Tigers, Leopards, Bears, Foxes, Monkeys, Deer, Antelope and many birds were finally transferred to their permanent enclosures. The Park was formally inaugurated on 1st November, 1959 by Mr Punjab Rao Deshmukh, Hon'ble Minister of the Government of India. This Park was initially known as Delhi Zoo. In the year 1982 it was given the status of the National Zoological Park with the idea of it being the model zoo of the country.
Here at the National Zoological Park, birds and animals live in an environment that in many ways resemble their natural habitat. The National Zoological Park not only provides a home for endangered species, but also helps them to breed in captivity. Eventually they may once again thrive in the wild.