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Animal and people watching at Pretoria Zoo
Pretoria Zoo is located just north of the CBD and is a good zoo, particularly by developing world standards. However, over the past couple of decades, seems to have been somewhat left behind by its southerly neighbour in Johannesburg. Whereas Johannesburg Zoo seems to have managed to attract significant funding and has developed new exhibits which have allowed it to move with the times, by contrast, Pretoria Zoo seems to have been caught in a time warp, and probably still reflects its heyday in the 1970s. The Pretoria site also feels more constrained spacewise than Johannesburg (not sure whether this is perception or reality?) which probably limits opportunity to develop extensive new exhibits, and because the enclosures are quite closely spaced, it has less of a 'park like' feel.
The zoo is located on the southern slope of a ridge, and walking up to the northern section can be quite energetic, particularly in summer (remember that Pretoria is on average at least 2 degrees C warmer than Johannesburg, despite the fact that they are only 60km apart). One of the nicest features is a cable car which transports you to the highest point and provides a panoramic view of the zoo (note that this is not included in the admission price, but is not expensive at less than R10). From this point you can look over the rather unlovely 1960s concrete monstrosities of the Pretoria CBD and have an unusual view of the infinitely more attractive Union Buildings along the ridge to the east as well as the marvellously menacing Voortrekker monument which lurks on the horizon.
Pretoria has a successful breeding programme for a number of threatened/endangered species and boasts some types of animals that are not present in Johannesburg - the Komodo dragons are a bit of a draw card. Unlike Jo'burg, it also has a small aquarium.
Small boys in particular will be fascinated by the huge old army Llama helicopter which is displayed in the grounds.
The Pretoria Zoo can get very busy on weekends and public holidays - I was there in December 2009, and the security guard told me that they had had over 37,000 visitors on the Day of Reconciliation public holiday earlier in the month! On weekends, the zoo is a popular destination for bus tours organised by church and school groups from the surrounding townships, who come for the day with picnics. This can make things very crowded and rather noisy, and whilst it provides a fascinating opportunity for people-watching, it can restrict your access to the animals. I would therefore suggest visiting during the week, or early in the morning before the crowds arrive.
- Family Travel
The zoo in Pretoria is one of the best in the world (if you like zoos). Personally I am not a big fan of zoos, if you want to see animals go and find them in their natural habitat. The pens are very big here and therefore so is the zoo so put your walking shoes on. There are also golf carts for hire at a very reasonable rate.
Pretoria Zoo (1)
The Pretoria Zoo - an 80-hectare area located in the heart of Pretoria's city centre. It houses over 4 000 animals, and some of them are for sale!
- Work Abroad
A very large Zoo and Aquarium, variety of animals and birds, snakes & fish.
There is a restaurant aswell.
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Pretoria Travel Guide
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