Thanks to its abundance of wildlife reserves, where animals roam free in the wild, the Africa has little need for zoos. However, there are a few, and the most popular of these is the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa. Founded at the end of the 19th century, it catered primarily to those who wished to enjoy the native wildlife without the inconvenience of having to actually leaving civilization. It has subsequently become the largest, most visited and most acclaimed urban zoos on the continent.
The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa began as a privately owned Boer farm in the 19th century, was acquired by the British in the 1890s, and developed into the Pretoria Zoo at the turn of the century. It was reorganized as the zoological gardens in 1916. In the century since it has grown into one of the largest and most acclaimed zoos in the world.
This modern facility features state-of-the-art animal exhibits, with a massive savannah that is home to almost every major African mammal species. Of particular interest, at least from an African standpoint, is the large number of Asian and other animals kept here (this is one of the few places in Africa where many non-African animals can be found). Popular animals include tigers, red pandas and kangaroos.
The National Zoological Gardens are located close to the center of the city of Pretoria, approximately forty miles north of Johannesburg. It is open every day year-round from 8:30am-5:30pm. The cost of admission is R75.00. Web: www.nzg.ac.za (official website).
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