Amidst the natural beauty of natural forest adjacent to Chandaka-Dampara Wildlife Sanctuary, Nandankanan lies in the vicinity of Kanjia lake. This site covers a portion of Krishnanagar and Jujhagarh Demarcated Protected Forests (DPF) and close to Baranga Railway station on Howrah-Chennai route. Geographically it is located between 200 23' 08" to 200 24' 10" North latitude and 850 48' 09" to 850 48' 13" East longitude (Survey of India Toposheet No. 73 H/15-NW).
The very name of “Nandankanan”, in mythology, delineates the ecstatic but imaginary beauty of the celestial garden. It also indicates the real beautiful spots par excellence on earth, where one can see the panoramic views of nature and appreciate the glamour that exists in the external morphology of plants and animals.
The zoo is enriched with 101 enclosures with 202 sub-enclosures at Nandankanan. It has the significance of having both the cages and open moat enclosures. There are 54 cages and 47 open moated enclosures to house all the captive animals of Nandankanan. It has the glory of having 126 species of animals which includes 40 spp. mammals, 56 spp. birds and 24 spp. reptiles. Nandankanan has huge number of animal collections. There are more than 1580 no animals, including 634 mammals, 812 birds and 134 reptiles. Eighty eight (88) species of indigenous species along with 32 exotic species of animals add glory to the collection of Nandankanan Zoological Park. The animal collection includes 15 spp of endangered mammals, -6 spp of endangered birds and 10 spp of endangered reptiles listed in Schedule I of WPA, 1972.
Nandankanan is the only zoo in India with the credit of having Patas monkey (Erythrocebus patas), Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximus) and Open-billed Stork (Anastomus oscitans). Besides, it has the glory among the 2 zoos in India having Orang-Utan (others in Kanpur Zoological Park, Uttar Pradesh), Indian Pangolin (others in Jhargram Zoo, West Bengal), Spotted Munia (Others in Sayajibaug Zoo, Gujurat) and Burmese Python (others in Culcatta Snake Park, West Bengal). It is among the three zoos of India having Green-winged Macaws, Cinereous Vulture and Nicobar Pigeon.
Nandankanan has created its unique place for successful captive breeding of endangered Gharials in 1980. Birth of white tiger from normal coloured tigers has given a special place to Nandankanan over the world as one of the major host zoo for the white tigers. The other significant breeding success of Nandankanan includes Indian pangolin (1971), Mouse deer (1972), Malayan Giant squirrel (1974), Sloth bear (1978), Mugger (1982), Himalayan Black bear (1982), Lion-tailed Macaque (1983), Brow-antlered deer (1984), Salt water crocodile (1985), Indian porcupine (1986), White necked stork (1986), Caiman crocodile (1990), Water monitor lizard (1996), Swamp deer (1998), Chimpanzee (1999), Grey heron (2000) and Siamese crocodile (2010), ratel 2012and many free living animals including Open billed storks.
- It is the host zoo for white tigers. White tigers were born to normal coloured parents in 1980, a unique event in the world.
- First zoo in the country where endangered Gharials were born in captivity in 1980.
- A unique White tiger safari was established in the Zoological Park on 1st October 1991.
- Wonderful site for wildlife conservation and education where one can experience integration of ex-situ and in-situ conservation of wild fauna and flora.
- Presence of Kanjia Lake-A wetland of National importance (2006)
- Conservation Breeding Centres for Indian Pangolin, White backed vultures and mouse deer.
- Nandankanan has largest enclosures for housing Gharials and Hippoptamus.
- Second Largest heronry for open billed storks (more than 12,000) in Odisha.
- Has Captive Fodder farm (over 33 Acs.) and a Slaughter house to cater the dietary needs of animals housed in the Zoological Park.
- First zoo in the country to become a member of World Association of Zoos & Aquariums (WAZA).