West Bengal's Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (PNHZP), India's largest high altitude zoo, has become the first to be selected for the prestigious Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Earth Heroes Awards 2014.
PNHZP was established in 1958 and is situated in Darjeeling at an elevation of 7,000 feet. It is popularly called the Darjeeling zoo.
The RBS with World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) conference will present the award Tuesday to Darjeeling zoo director Alankar Jha in New Delhi. It has competed with 300 zoos across the world.
"We are the first zoo in India to have received the prestigious honour. The focus now is to maintain the standard of research and conservation work that we have been doing so far," Jha told IANS.
It is the only specialized zoo in the country and is internationally recognized for its conservation breeding programmes of Red Panda, Snow Leopards, Tibetan Wolf and other endangered animals of eastern Himalayas.
The zoological park falls under the category of small zoos according to Central Zoo Authority's classification but is the largest high altitude zoo in the country.
It is also well-known for its efforts in educating, motivating and initiating awareness campaign among people as well as visitors about the importance of conservation of Himalayan eco-system.
"The next step for us is to better our research programmes and awareness campaigns," Jha said.
RBS Earth Heroes awards recognises and honours individuals and institutions who work exceptionally hard to preserve and protect critical eco-systems.
The zoo also has a dedicated staff undertaking research and documentation of endangered species in the Himalayan ecosystem.
The park is a member of WAZA.