Advantages good prices, huge variety of animals
Disadvantages possibly too big for one day!
|Is it worth visiting?|
The Johannesburg zoo is kind of a cultural part of everyone’s lives in Johannesburg – if you haven’t been there, you haven’t lived!My first visit was when I was 7 years old. I was in grade 1 of primary school and it was our first school trip. My most recent trip was in 2007... My husband and I had moved back to South Africa for 11 months, and while we were there his parents visited South Africa. Being from Cape Town, none of them (hubby included) had EVER been to the Johannesburg zoo. Sacrilege! We drove down to fetch them from their hotel, and took them to spend the day at the zoo.
The zoo has been around for over 100 years (since 1904), and is home to over 3,000 different species of animal – more on this shortly.There is ample parking outside the zoo – you used to have to pay for parking too, but I believe this has changed now. You enter the parking through security booms, so it’s very reassuring to know your car will be safe. Alternatively, you could catch a bus to the zoo (I've never done this myself).
You go up to the gate, pay your entry fee and enter through revolving gates. As you walk into the zoo, there are information boards, which also show maps of the zoo – make sure you get a map from the gate though or you’re probably going to get horribly lost!Prices
The zoo is open from 08:30 to 17:30 – last entry is at 16:00, which I think is really good because you would need to rush to make it through the zoo in 1 and a half hours.There are SO many animals, and I don’t want to bore you with all of them, so will just fill you in on my favourites!
The sea lions are by far my favourite – at certain times you can even see them being fed by the zoo keepers. They’re so playful and very graceful, but gosh do they smell!The polar bears would be the next best thing – their display is awesome... you can go to a viewing area downstairs and see them through the glass, even swimming underwater :)
Then there are the “big cats” – I’m an eternal cat lover and these big ones are great to watch. Interesting fact – this zoo is one of the few places in the world with white lions, which are very rare and difficult to breed. They’re also the only zoo in South Africa to have bred Siberian tigers. They have a famous tiger called Twist – now he’s a BIG tigger! Contrary to popular belief, no, lions don't walk around in our backyards! (yes- I've been asked before!)Speaking of famous zoo residents – there was also Max the gorilla. On my first trip to the zoo, he was still around. On the same trip, our school also “adopted” a big black male bear, and named him Baloo. Funny the things I remember!
All of the displays and exhibits are well labelled, showing details of the animals. They show diet, natural habitat, areas they can be found in South Africa etc. The range of animals is incredibly overwhelming – I would recommend taking a packed lunch and a camera.There are a few places you can purchase food from, but I never have - due to the extortionate prices. There are plenty of places you can sit on the grass and relax, or benches for the more squeamish. They used to have golf carts you could rent, to drive around the zoo in... These have since disappeared which is a great pity.
If the kids are getting restless or tired, there's an area towards the centre of the zoo, specifically designed for them. This includes funfair rides, and educational centre etc, so this zoo really does cater to everyone (except hunters!)On our day at the zoo, we started off looking at the birds of prey. We were lucky enough (depends on how you look at it) to arrive at feeding time, and got to see an owl making off with a baby chicken for breakfast. He didn’t look too impressed at having an audience!
We then proceeded to the reptile area – where there are a large variety of reptiles... all I remember is the snakes! There are so many varieties, and so much info on each species that hubby really loved this and I think he wanted to stay there.We strolled down to the seals but sadly missed feeding time, so didn’t stay long – they were lazy after eating their breakfast and just lay there in the sun.
Our day was nearly brought to an abrupt ending, when the skies opened up and dumped a load of rain on us. We sprinted to the polar bear enclosure for shelter, and escaped with some damp clothing. Being true South Africans, we waited for the downpour to stop (only took 10 minutes to turn to a light shower), and continued walking around. I would suggest taking an umbrella if you visit in Summer - Johannesburg has random thunderstorms that last a few minutes, and give no advance warning.All of the animals' enclosures and well designed, with plenty of space - I'm quite the animal activist so this is very important to me. The zoo also takes the stance of teaching generations of people about animals, and how to respect and treasure them, as well as working as conservationists. I can honestly say that the animals appear to be very well looked after here, unlike some places I've been to.
I have a bit of an issue with public toilets, so when we came across a bathroom I quickly declined – so I can’t comment on the state of these!Overall, the trip to the zoo was a great day out – it was a lot more sociable than going to the cinema and we got a lot of exercise without realising it until later. I would recommend this for everyone who can do a fair amount of walking or doesn’t mind resting between stretches.
After a day at the zoo I can guarantee two things – sore feet and a great night’s sleep.More information can be found on the website:
I hope this review has been helpful!p.s photos uploaded thanks for the help! xx
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