Eight things you should know about the Johannesburg Zoo

Eight things you should know about the Johannesburg Zoo

The zoo houses animals from across the globe and it is constantly growing its collection.

The Johannesburg Zoo is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Joburg, visited by over half a million people every year.

This is with good reasons because for more than a century the zoo has provided urbanites with an opportunity to experience wildlife at their doorsteps. The zoo houses animals from across the globe and it is constantly growing its collection.

The zoo is, also, a constantly evolving entity whose mission has changed considerably over the years.

That means there may be a fair few things that even its most ardent visitors might not be aware of. Here are eight things you should know about the zoo:

It’s 114 years old 

The Johannesburg Zoo opened its gates in 1904, with the land it’s built on gifted to the city the year before, having previously been part of a farm and later a timber plantation.

As well as the zoo, the land would come to include Zoo Lake and the South African National Museum of Military History.

There’s a Jock of the Bushveld connection

The first animals to be donated to the zoo came from Jock of the Bushveld author Sir Percy Fitzpatrick’s private collection.

Among those animals were two lions and a leopard, with Fitzpatrick continuing to source animals for the zoo until 1912.

It houses thousands of animals from hundreds of species 

The Johannesburg Zoo is home to approximately 2300 animals from 328 species. These include species of frogs, spiders, birds, reptiles, fish and mammals.

It’s big on conservation

These days, zoos aren’t just places you go to see animals in captivity. They play an important role in the conservation of many species.

The Johannesburg Zoo is no exception and is involved in several notable conservation projects.

These include breeding programmes for Siberian Tigers and African Wild Dogs, as well as breed and release programmes for the Cape Vulture and Wattled Crane.

You can visit at night

 The zoo hosts several night tours, allowing visitors to experience its nocturnal creatures, including a sunset tour, moonlight tour, and night tour.

Each tour includes entrance, parking, tour, bonfire, tea, coffee, marshmallows, and hot chocolate.

You can spend the night 

If you’re looking for an adventurous night among the animals without having to head out of town to a game reserve, then you might be pleased to learn that you can camp out at the zoo.

Anyone opting for the so-called “Zoo Snooze” package gets a Behind – the Scenes tour and Night Tour, ending off with a bonfire.

It has a farm animal project

The zoo’s conservation efforts aren’t just limited to wild animals. It also has a farm animal conservation project.

The collection includes small and giant breeds, as well as indigenous and animals from abroad. Among the species are Buff Orpington and Black Australorp chicken, Crested Duck, Chinese Goose, Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, Zulu sheep, and Nguni cattle.

It hosts an annual Mother’s Day concert

Every year, the zoo celebrates mothers, and this year is no exception. On 13 May, the Johannesburg Zoo will celebrate all mothers with its annual Mother’s Day concert.

As well as musical performances, the concert will feature animal tours and kiddies’ area, giving mom the chance to sit back, relax, and enjoy the music. Musical performances will feature soulful jazz band, The Soil, and jazz-soul musician Lunga Mavuso.

For more information about the Johannesburg Zoo, visit

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