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 Ekstein.
Hermann Eckstein was involved in the development
of the new mining town of Johannesburg, He had
three million trees planted in an area which he
christened Sachsenwald, now the suburb of
For much of the twentieth
century, the Johannesburg Zoo developed and many
facilities were built, for example the hospital
in 1936. The zoo also went through some
difficult periods where the animal collection
was diminishing and not growing.
perception of the zoo changed in the 1960's
where 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, development
of education and environmental programmes and
the zoo becoming part of local and international
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.
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
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 erected. 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.