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The Johannesburg Zoo

The Joburg Zoo is on the Southern Side of the SAPRA area and is one of the most popular local and tourist attractions. The Zoo covers 55 hectares of land and was founded in 1904.

The Joburg Zoo houses over 320 species of animals, totalling about 2 000 animals and is open to the public 364 days a year, including Christmas, New Years and Easter holidays. With international accreditation, the Zoo maintains a high standard of animal welfare, nutrition and ethical conduct to ensure the physical and psychological well-being of all its animals.

The Zoo is a great educational facility giving all children an opportunity to see real animals up close, particularly those who are unable to go to any of our game parks.

This education is important for us to develop our awareness of the importance of a healthy ecology and an awareness of the great advantages that we have in our wild life in South Africa.

The Joburg Zoo has many fun offers to visitors such as various night and day tours, school holiday programmes, venue hire and regular events for the public.


The land which the Johannesburg Zoo encompasses was donated to the people of the City of Johannesburg to be used for recreational use by the firm of the late Hermann Eckstein. Hermann Eckstein was involved in the development of the new mining town of Johannesburg. He had 3-million trees planted in an area which he christened Sachsenwald, now the suburb of Saxonwold.

Since then, the Johannesburg Zoo has developed and evolved over the years. Many facilities were built, for example the hospital in 1936.

Public perception of the zoo changed in the 1960's when visitors wanted to see animals in larger, more natural enclosures. This was the start of the zoo's long-term plans to grow and improve the facility for both the animals and the visitors. These changes saw the upgrading and creation of old and new enclosures, the development of education and environmental programmes, and the zoo becoming part of local and international breeding programmes.

The original animal collection consisted of one lion, one leopard, one giraffe, two Sable antelope bulls, one baboon, one genet, one pair of Rhesus monkeys, one pair of porcupines and one Golden eagle.

(Information obtained from the Johannesburg Zoo website - more information may be obtained by clicking here.)

Impact on the Zoo Lake Park

Water that flows from the Parktown Ridge enters the Zoo through two storm-water drain pipes and is eventually deposited into man made dams, just opposite the Jan Smuts Avenue entrance.  The stream picks up a number of pollutants on its way, including litter, human waste, plant matter and the discharge from some of the animal enclosures.  Previously, this used to be deposited into the Zoo Lake and the lake bore the brunt of the damage.

A public outcry over the state of the public open space demanded rectification.  Consequently, the Zoo constructed wetland purification system in 2002 covering approximately one hectare in size.  Water that enters the Zoo from the two storm water channels enter the primary sieve tank, where large objects, such as bottles and tins, are removed.  From here the water flows into a large catchment tank and then into a sludge settlement tank where solid waste is removed - solids suspended in the water settles at the bottom of the tank and is pumped into the City's sewer line, whilst some is also used for compost.  The biological purification system involves the water flowing through a channel and into the first of three reed beds planted in a zigzag pattern.  This allows the plants and indigenous fauna time to remove impurities and the purified water then exits the wetland system, moves under Jan Smuts Avenue and enters the Zoo Lake through further settlement dams.

To learn more about the Johannesburg Zoo, click on here.