Nandankanan, the first Zoological park in the State was established on 29th December, 1960. The Zoological Park together with the panoramic Kanjia lake and the State Botanical Garden has been notified as Nandankanan Wildlife Santuary over an area of 4.37 sq.km. on 3rd August, 1979. In 1960, the zoological Park started witj few animals in captivity and subsequently expanded its dimension to be one of the premier large zoos in the country. The animal enclosure have been progressively designed to create large enclosure in natural environment. It has the unique distinction of integration of wildlife conservation both in wild and in captivity. The animal enclosure have been progressively designed to create large enclosure in natural envirinment. It has the unique distinction of integration of wildlife conservation both in wild and in captivity. The first comprehensive Master Plan of Nandankanan Zoological Park for ten years (2010-2020) has been prepared and approved by the Central Zoo Authority, New Delhi on 19.07.2010. The Zoological Park houses more than 1700 animals and birds belonging to 120 species of birds, 15 species of reptiles, 10 species of amphibians, 85 species of butterflies, 55 species of dragonflies and damselflies and 51 species of spiders have ben recorded so far in the wild inside Nandankanan santuary.
Nandankanan attained distinction in first ever breeding success of the Gharial in captivity in a naturalistic pool created for the purpose, through a full grown male gharial brought from Frankfurt zoo on 7th may, 1980. More than 700 Gharials successfully reared in the breeding center of Nandankanan have been released in their natural habitats of Odisha. In the sane year, two normal coloured tigers 'Deepak' and 'Ganga' gave birth to 3 white off-springs named 'Debabrata' , 'Alaka' and 'Nanda' on the 8th January 1980 creating the history in the world. With this, Nandankanan created its own family of white tigers and a separate gene pool of tigers. It has created its ownidentity in the field of successful captive breeding and rearing of highly threatened species like Indian Pangolin (Manis Crassicaudata) and identified as the coordinating zoo for the conservation breeding of the species by Central Zoo Authority (CZA). The Park is also identified as the participating zoo for breeding of tigers white backed vultures and mouse deer.
Many species of animals including Swamp deer, hog deer, barking deer, nilgai, bonnet macaque, chimpanzee, hippopotmus, ibis, gharial, water monitor, soft-shelled turtle, siamese crocodile etc.. have been bred successfully during the year.