Visiting The Johannesburg Zoo

Whether you call it Johannesburg Zoo or Joburg Zoo, the zoo in Johannesburg is a good spot for family picnic. How do I know? Well, my family and I recently visited Johannesburg Zoo for the first time.

Pitori to Jozi

We are still new to Johannesburg, so it took a while for us to start exploring it. Phela growing up in Pretoria (Pitori), we were told horror stories about Johannesburg (Jozi). Those Jozi crime stories were enough to keep one away from the city of gold. If it wasn’t for my job and family, I doubt that I would have left Pretoria for Johannesburg. Now that I live in Joburg, I would say those stories are over-rated; they are not as bad as reported. Johannesburg, just like most economic capitals, is fast and busy.

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Entrance and parking fees at The Johannesburg Zoo

Welcome signpost at the entrance to The Johannesburg Zoo
The Johannesburg Zoo entrance

Enough about Pretoria. We’re in Johannesburg now so let me tell you about our first trip to Johannesburg Zoo. We went to the zoo on a Monday afternoon in December. The first thing we did after parking, was to escort our son to the restroom. We used the restroom. near the zoo’s covered multi-level parking, which is spacious, ample and secure. The Joburg zoo parking fee is R15 for a car and R25 for buses. The zoo entrance fee is R110 per adult and R65 per child while students with their student card are billed R65 each. Meanwhile, unlimited visits to the zoo within a year which is called the Annual Pass will cost an adult R850 and R500 for a child. The Annual Pass excludes tours, holiday programs, zoo trots, and events. These are 2020 updated fees. Please always check for recent rates.

The Johannesburg Zoo has ATMs, food trucks and picnic areas

Despite the cold welcome from some staff, we enjoyed watching and (in some cases) interacting with different animals. We started by the birds’ section so we saw birds, birds, birds and more birds. It was getting boring for me. Luckily, my two favourite people (Akin and Akin) didn’t mind much. Johannesburg Zoo has several food trucks that sell food but I packed a picnic bag full of food. My husband generously carried the heavy picnic backpack everywhere we went. Unfortunately, I forgot the picnic blanket so we had to sit at the concrete bench and chair sets. Luckily, Johannesburg Zoo has a lot of those sitting arrangements – chairs, benches and tables which are perfect for picnics. I was happy to see that Johannesburg Zoo had ATMs on-site and rubbish bins throughout the zoo. We bought ice cream from one of the food trucks that had a card machine before venturing off again.

Tiger, woods and a lonely elephant

Eventually, we saw a tiger. It looked exactly like the tiger on the Tiger Brands logo but it was a lot bigger than I expected. We also saw one lonely-looking elephant. The elephant’s home was surrounded by peacocks that appeared to be ready to reproduce. They were running around freely everywhere – some didn’t have their colourful feathers anymore. That was a sad sight. On a brighter note, we also saw a rhino, lemurs, monkeys and antelopes.

Beautiful peacock feather display at the Johannesburg zoo
The peacocks at the elephant house

Late for the Amazon Exhibition

However, the Amazon animal section, where marine animals, are kept was closed. It was our fault, we arrived a bit late to the zoo. The Johannesburg Zoo is open weekdays and weekends (Monday – Sunday) from 08:30 – 17:30 but the Amazon section closes around 3pm. Trying to get my family to leave the house early (together) is like pulling teeth. It is painful to endure and horrifying to watch (all at the same time).

The tale of the fighting zebras

Speaking of horrifying moments, we came across the zebras. I have always found zebras to be peaceful and uneventful but not this time.

The infamous fighting zebras at the Johannesburg zoo
The infamous fighting zebras

Yoh! The zebras at Johannesburg Zoo were wild. They were so wild that even my son (who can also be wild) was a bit scared.

African zebras fighting at the Johannesburg zoo
Another angle of the fighting zebras

My boy and the zebra

We walked through a narrow passage and passed some white cranes (and squirrels) on our left. The zebras were on our right hand side. My son and I were walking ahead of daddy (who was admiring the cranes even after having seen a billion birds). My son then decided to run and to my surprise the zebra ran along him (behind the mesh fence). This boy showed no fear and continued to run with this wild zebra.

A boy with a zebra befriending at the Johannesburg zoo
My son and the zebra he tried to befriend

After I asked my son to stop playing with the zebra (in a not so quiet tone), we proceeded to the other side to see more zebras.

This time, we saw sets of zebras, two of which were fighting like wild animals

Yes, I meant to write that!

The end and the beginning of the next visit

The smallest zebra kept on going back for round after round of kicks, bites and what sounded like insults from the bigger zebra. It was interesting to watch at first until the small Zebra started crying. This was my first time hearing a zebra cry over and over. These fighting zebras went at this for almost 20 minutes. They were still fighting when we left them.

On my next visit to the Johannesburg Zoo, I am going to check on those fighting zebras. Wish me luck!

To find out more about Johannesburg Zoo, visit their website. We have more travel reviews of places in Jozi – e.g. Westdene Dam in Johannesburg – Travel Review.

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Lagos to Jozi

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