Welcome to the JHB Zoo

Please Note: The Zoo is open everyday from 08:30 – 17:30


The Joburg Zoo is one of the most popular local and tourist attractions situated in the leafy northern suburb of Johannesburg. The Zoo covers 55 hectares of land and was founded in 1904, when land was donated to the public for recreational use by the firm of the late Hermann Ekstein.

The Joburg Zoo houses over 320 species of animals, totalling about 2 000 animals. The Joburg Zoo 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 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. Please look through our calendar to find a fun event for the whole family!


The history of the Zoo

In 1904, 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. 
Did you know?
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.
Here are some more fun facts:
  • The first ‘official’ enclosure was built by the Town Council to house two young lions. Only the lions and leopard were in the public area at this stage.
  • In 1910 the Bandstand was built to host the popular brass band music of the day.
  • Between 1913 and 1915 the stone elephant and rhino house was built. Also at this time, one Asian elephant and one Bactrian camel were purchased and trained for rides.
  • In 1961 for the first time visitors over the age of 16 were charged to enter the zoo.
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