The zoo is open every day of the year - Christmas, New Years Day and Easter holidays included, and houses close to 2000 animals, consisting of roughly 350 species.
Although the early days consisted of caged animals, it was as early as the 1920's that a moat sytem - the first in South Africa, and large animal camps - the first in the southern hemisphere, were introduced.
Perceptions to zoos changed in the 1960's, and the Johannesburg City Council set out to establish a modern zoo, with open and more natural enclosures that were designed around the needs of the animal and their particular activities.
This has continued up until the present, with the latest addition being the still incomplete Temple of the Ancients.
Today the core business of the zoo is a Recreational experience for the visitor, but Education, Conservation and Research are vital components to a modern zoo.
SCHOOL HOLIDAY PROGRAMME :
Booking is essential with Lebo.
Tel : 011 646 2000 ext 216 or
WHAT TO SEE :
The zoo has been laid out in various geographical zones, with the animals housed in enclosures similar to their natural environment.
When walking through these different zones - the Southern Safari, the Heart of Africa, the Spice Route, Amazonia and Extreme Environments, you'll appreciate the amazing diversity that we need to protect.
There is also a Children's Farmyard
and an entertainment area.
The Johannesburg Zoo's Children's Farmyard is a great place to introduce the children to
domestic, farm animals
Huge Nile crocodiles bask in the last of the late afternoon sun in their spacious enclosure
Southern Safari :
The largest zone, the Southern Safari, houses the animals that we know from this part of the world.
These iclude bush babies, hyenas, aardwolves, wild dogs and cheetah as well as two lion prides in the the Anglo Gold lion enclosure.
A number of plains animals such as elephant, giraffe, zebra, impala, kudu, wildebeest, buffalo - those that make up the majority of the animals on our grasslands, are also here.
The African elephant, one of the animals in the Southern Safari at the Johannesburg Zoo
Heart of Africa :
The new "Ape House" is a magnificent home for the great apes - the gorillas and chimpanzees.
A wooden walkway meanders past the Heart of Africa’s smaller species - such as the mandrill baboon, the red river hog and the bongo antelope.
The chimps have a large, modern enclosure, with a number of glass windows, as well as a
Spice Route :
raised area, from which to view them
It was during the Age of Discovery that the trading routes between Europe and the east, via the Cape of Good hope, opened up, and because of the importance of the traded cargo, it became known as the Spice Route.
The route included countries such as Madagascar, Arabia, India, Nepal and China.
The zoo has the best collection of lemurs, of any zoo in the world.
These lovely little prosimian primates (type of primate that include lemurs, lorises, bushbabies and tarsiers) are only found on the island of Madagascar.
The Madagascan lemurs have spacious cages that enable them to climb and swing and forage
A number of desert dwellers, including the Scimitar-Horned Oryx, which is now extinct in the wild, but previously inhabited the whole of North Africa, is part of the Spice Route.
A new building resembling a Mayan Temple, houses The Animals of the Amazon - snakes, spiders, green iguanas, bats, freshwater fish, and primates - all from central and South America.
A highlight for me was the tunnel that allows you to walk "through" the dome-shaped freshwater aquarium.
The highlight of the walk through the Mayan Temple, is the "tunnel" under the dome-shaped freshwater aquarium.
Extreme Environments :
This shows the animals that survive under extreme climates - both hot and cold, and displayed animals as diverse as polar bears and camels!
Wang, Africa’s last polar bear, had to be put down due to liver failure and chronic arthritis on 13th August 2014.
The much-loved bear, born on 21 December 1985, arrived at the Joburg Zoo in December 1986 as part of a conservation exchange programme with a Zoo in Japan.
Wang had been pining the loss of his beloved partner of 27-years GeeBee, who died on 12 January 2014 due to natural causes.
The empty polar bear cage, that no longer houses any animals
The history of the modern zoo began in the late 18th and early 19th Century with the establishment of the Paris Zoo in 1793 and the London Zoo in 1826.
Closer to home, it was the discovery of gold in 1886, that led to the indirect founding of the Johannesburg Zoo.
The land on which the Johannesburg Zoo stands was planted with three million trees by the company H. Eckstein and Co. - a forerunner of Rand Mines, which was to become a very successful financial company set up to explore deep level gold mining in the area around the newly proclaimed city.
The area was known as Sachsenwald Forest, but changed to what we now know as Saxonwold as a result of the Second World War, and includes the suburbs of Forest Town, the Johannesburg Zoo and Zoo Lake.
Remnants of the Sachsenwald Forest are still visible in the open grassy lawns
of the Johannesburg Zoo grounds
Hermann Ludwig Eckstein, who was a founding member of the company, died aged 45 in 1893, and in 1903, his former business partners donated the Sachsenwald Forest to "... the public of Johannesburg, as a public park ..." in his memory.
A few animals that had been kept on the land up until then, were donated to the "zoo" by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick.
The park was later named the Hermann Eckstein Park.
A number of elevated walkways allow you to look at animals beyond moats, in their natural environment
HOW TO GET THERE :
The Johannesburg Zoo is bounded by Jan Smuts Avenue to the west (Parkview), Upper Park Drive to the east and south (Forest Town), and Erlswold Way to the east and north (Saxonwold).
This is one of a number of walk through aviaries, giving you a close up look at a number of bird species
The new three storey parkade that has parking for 710 cars and 15 buses is now open.
It is situated alongside the Zoo Entrance in Upper Park Drive.
Overflow parking on very busy days will still be at the Distong Museum of Military History as well as other parking areas on Erlswold Way and across the road from the Jan Smuts Avenue Entrance, in the Zoo Lake grounds.
The Jan Smuts Avenue Entrance and the parking are both on the corner of Lower Park Drive
For directions on how to get there, follow this link to a new page!