In 1952 the Indian Board for Wildlife created a committee to look into creating a zoo for Delhi. The government of India was to develop the zoo and then turn it over to Delhi as a working enterprise. In 1953 the committee approved the location of the zoo, and in October 1955 it assigned N. D. Bachkheti of the Indian Forest Service to oversee the creation of the zoo. Initially Major Aubrey Weinman of the Ceylon Zoological Garden (now the National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka) was asked to help draw the plans for the zoo, but because he was not available for the long term, Carl Hagenbeck of the Zoological Garden of Hamburg was hired. In March 1956, Hagenbeck presented a preliminary plan, which included the recommendation to use moated enclosures for the new zoo. The plan was modified as needed to account for local conditions, and approved by the Indian government in December 1956.
By the end of 1959, the Northern part of the zoo was complete, and animals which had been arriving for some time and which had been housed in temporary pens were moved into their permanent homes. The park was opened on 1 November 1959 as the Delhi Zoo. In 1982 it was officially renamed to National Zoological Park, with hopes that it could become a model for other zoos in the country.