This month we celebrate the 114th birthday of the Johannesburg zoo. The View Today has sourced some rather interesting old photos that will transport you back in time, to when visiting the zoo was a rather big occasion!
Early in 1904, 200 acres of land was officially accepted by the Town Council of Johannesburg and handed over to the people of Johannesburg as a recreational venue. This land was offered by the firm of H.Eckstein & Co.and was to be called “The Hermann Eckstein Park” in memory of the founder of the firm.
Hermann Eckstein was involved in the development of Johannesburg, and he had three million trees planted in an area which he christened Sachsenwald, now the suburb of Saxonwold. After his death in 1893 the land was subdivided. His partners offered part of the plantation to the Town Council. It was South Africa’s well-known Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, a partner in the firm, who suggested that it be named after Hermann Eckstein.
Sir Percy Fitzpatrick would donate the first animals to the zoo, and would continue to source animals for the zoo until 1912. The zoo’s first enclosures housed two lions and a leopard. In 1910 a bandstand was constructed for bass band music. After 1912 the zoo expanded into land that had been allocated in trust for a war memorial, the Rand Regiments Memorial for soldiers that died during the Second Anglo-Boer War. Between 1913 and 1915, a rhino and elephant house were built and an Asian elephant and a camel were imported and trained for rides.
Due to requirements in the Deed of Gift under which the land for the Johannesburg Zoo and the neighbouring Zoo Lake was acquired, the zoo, and neighbouring park, is one of very few public areas that was never segregated during Apartheid in South Africa.
The zoo has currently 326 species consisting of 2096 specimens housed consisting of 20 species of frogs, 5 of spiders, 128 of birds, 47 of reptiles, 25 of fish and 101 of mammals. It was home to Africa’s last polar bear until 2014.
Read More: www.jhbzoo.co.za
Source: JHB Zoo, Johannesburg Heritage Foundation