Johannesburg Zoo

“I loved everything about the Johannesburg Zoo. I just loved it.!“

“A wonderful outing for children with so much to see!“

The Four Seasons Hotel, The Westcliff, looks down over the lush grounds of the Johannesburg Zoo

The Johannesburg Zoo, which opened in 1904 on 200 acres (81 hectares) of donated land, is a hugely popular attraction for tourists and locals alike!

In line with modern thinking, the Jo'burg Zoo focuses on conservation work and education, and is involved in a number of endangered species breeding programmes.

The majority of enclosures have been built to replicate the animal's natural environmet, and bars and cages have been replaced with outdoor enclosures using moats and fences to confine the animal, and elevated walkways and glass panels for visitors to view the animals.

Great for the kids! These viewing windows in the chimp enclosure allow visitors
to get a really good look at our closest relative.

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.
Adults : R75.00
Children, students and Pensioners : R46.00

Car : R10.00
Bus : R20.00

8.30am - 5.30pm
7 days a week, every day of the year,
Last entry 4.00pm
The entrance and parking in Upper Park Drive is temporarily closed due to a double-story 570-space parking deck being built there.

Use the entrance to the Zoo in Jan Smuts Avenue, with parking across the road, in the Zoo Lake grounds.
Both on the corner of Lower Park Drive

Telephone : +27 (0)11 646-2000
Fax : +27 (0)11 486-2866
Send an E-Mail

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.

The AngloGold Lion Enclosure has numerous viewing windows and platforms that look
out over the different prides

Click here for the Johannesburg Zoo School Holiday Programme, which is run during school holidays, and gets kids out of shopping malls and puts them back where they belong - in nature!
Booking is essential with Lebo.
Tel : 011 646 2000 ext 216 or

Huge Nile crocodiles bask in the last of the late afternoon sun in their spacious enclosure

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

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
raised area, from which to view them

Spice Route : 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.

Amazonia : 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.

Amazonia, the building resembling a Mayan Temple, that houses The Animals of the Amazon at the Johannesburg Zoo
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

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 entrance and parking in Upper Park Drive is temporarily closed due to a double-story 570-space parking deck being built there.

Use the entrance to the Zoo in Jan Smuts Avenue, with parking across the road, in the Zoo Lake grounds.
Both on the corner of Lower Park Drive

For directions on how to get there, follow this link to a new page!

Johannesburg Zoo
Jan Smuts Avenue (between Erlswold Way and Upper Park Drive), Parkview.
Main Entrance : Upper Park Drive, Forest Town
Johannesburg Zoo website

Page uploaded : 16th March 2012
Page updated : 31st October 2015

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