Zoological Survey of India

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Zoological Survey of India
Zoological Survey of India (emblem).jpg
Abbreviation ZSI
Formation July 1, 1916; 99 years ago (1916-07-01)
Type Government agency
Purpose Animal taxonomy and conservation
Headquarters Kolkata
Region served
Parent organization
Ministry of Environment and Forests (India)
Website zsi.gov.in

The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) is a premier Indian organisation in zoological research and studies. It was established on 1 July 1916 to promote the survey, exploration and research of the fauna in the region. The activities of the ZSI are coordinated by the Conservation and Survey Division in the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.


The survey had its genesis in the establishment of the Zoological Section of the Indian Museum at Calcutta in 1875. The establishment was suggested in letters by Alfred William Alcock following his resignation.[1] The survey conducts no formal courses, but holds Conferences, Training Courses, Workshops and Colloquia periodically. For the publication of the results of research carried out in its laboratories, the survey has its own journals.

The ZSI began on the strength of a (then) century old zoological collection from the former museum (1814–1875) of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, which had passed on to the Zoological Section of the Indian Museum (1875–1916).

The Zoological Collections continued to be housed in the Indian Museum in Kolkata. It was decided in December 1941 to evacuate all type-specimens and Class I exhibits to the Forest Research Institute in Dehra Dun, for the duration of the Second World War. The rest of the collections were temporarily moved to Kaiser Castle in Varanasi in May 1942.[2]


Primary objectives[edit]

  • Exploration and Survey of Faunal Resources
  • Taxonomic Studies
  • Status Survey of Endangered Species
  • Publication of Results through Departmental Journals
  • Publication of Fauna of India
  • Maintenance and Development of National Zoological Collections
  • Central Refernal, Information, Advisory and Library Services.

Secondary objectives[edit]

  • Maintenance of Museums at Headquarters and Regional Stations
  • Environmental Impact Studies wherever specially asked for by the Ministry of Environment & Forests.


The ZSI has sixteen Regional and Field Stations, and functions as the guardian of the National Zoological Collections, containing over a million identified specimens from all animal groups.

Regional stations[edit]

  • Eastern, at Shillong
  • Western, at Pune
  • Northern, at Dehra Dun
  • Central, at Jabalpur
  • Desert, at Jodhpur
  • Southern, at Chennai
  • Gangetic Plains, at Patna
  • Andaman & Nicobar, at Port Blair

Field stations[edit]

  • Marine Biology, at Chennai
  • Fresh Water Biology, at Hyderabad
  • Sunderbans, at Canning, West Bengal
  • Estuarine Biology, at Gopalpur,Orissa
  • Western Ghats, at Kozhikode
  • Marine Aquarium & Research, at Digha
  • Arunachal Pradesh, at Itanagar
  • High Altitude Zoology, at Solan

Red Data Book[edit]

Male and female carapaces (top) and plastrons (bottom) of Cyclemys oldhamii of Inle Lake by N. Annandale, 1918, Zoological Survey of India

On the basis of the initial categorization of rare animals by the IUCN, the survey published its first account in 1983, Threatened Animals of India by B K Tikader. The book covered 81 mammal, 47 bird, 15 reptilian and 3 amphibian rare species.

The IUCN revised its criteria in 1993, following which the survey published The Red Data Book on Indian Animals (Vertebrata), by its director, A K Ghosh, in 1994. It covered 77 mammal, 55 bird, 20 reptilian and 1 amphibian species under the IUCN categories.

The IUCN criteria underwent major revisions in 2000. In addition, the survey decided to incorporate guidelines from CITES and the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act. The survey published a list, based on the revised guidelines, of 150 mammals that are in need of protection.

Research in Antarctica[edit]

The ZSI also participates in the Indian Antarctic Program, since its inception in 1989. ZSI participants in the 15th expedition (1995–96) reported 29 species of invertebrate fauna from East Antarctica. ZSI Scientists involved in the 17th Indian Expedition (1997–98) studied invertebrates, belonging to Phylum Protozoa, Arthropoda and Nemathelminthes, inhabiting terrestrial moss in the Schirmacher Oasis. Primarily aimed at identifying the taxonomy of the invertebrates found, the study was also targeted at researching the bio-geographical relationship in the Antarctic ecosystem. ZSI participants in the 22nd Expedition (2003–04) conducted ultra structural studies of hair of mammals, besides collecting the feathers of the snow petrel, penguin and south polar skua for trace elemental analysis.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ W. T. C.; S. W. K.; P. M-B. (1933) Alcock, Alfred William 1859–1933. Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 1(2):119-126.
  2. ^ History ZSI website.

External links[edit]