The Pretoria Zoo, more formally known as the National Zoological Gardens is a great spot for families, students, school groups and tourists alike.
This 85-hectare zoo is home to thousands of species including mammals, birds, invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians.
If you hadn’t already guessed, it is the largest zoo of its kind in South Africa. This is one of the reasons it has been named the national zoo of South Africa.
You need not drive for hours outside of the city for this super cool outing. The Pretoria Zoo is situated just 5 minutes outside of Central Pretoria and 5.4 km away from Pretoria University (commonly known as Tuks University).
In case you weren’t yet sold, the Pretoria Zoo also houses South Africa’s largest inland marine aquarium as well as a Reptile Shed. It really is fun for the whole family and offers a variety of additional activities.
- You might also be interested in Johannesburg Zoo?
Don't forget to check what’s happening in Pretoria Today
A Brief History
The ever growing zoo was founded by J.W.B Gunning in 1899 and is internationally recognized and rated among the top 10 zoos in the world.
The highly accredited tourism site, World Atlas published the following article rating the Pretoria Zoo as one of the 10 best ranked zoos in the world, competing with the well-known Bronx Zoo in New York.
The Zoo hosts visitors in excess of 600 000 each year and is well respected for its successful breeding programs. If you are interested in this outing, be sure to check out yr.no for an accurate Pretoria weather forecast.
Here you can pick a sunny day for your one-stop African experience. Be sure to bring sunblock and a hat. Most areas, including the restrooms, are wheelchair friendly.
Pretoria Zoo Animals List
The zoo prides itself in promoting the importance of animal conservation. It also plays a vital role in protecting endangered species.
Some of the animals which you can expect to find at the Pretoria Zoo are as follows:
- White Tigers
- Pygmy Hippopotamus
- Western Lowland Gorilla
- Black Rhinoceros
Animal Feeding Times
- Lions and tigers are fed at 2:30 on alternate days
- Bears feeding times is from 9:30 to 10:00
- Penguins are fed 3 times daily at 9:30, 12:00 and 15:30
- Red river hawks are fed at 14:00
- Elephants are fed at 10:30
- Sharks are fed on Wednesday and Sunday at 12:00
- Vultures are fed on Wednesday and Sunday at 14:00
Pretoria Zoo Entrance Fee and Details
The zoo is open 7 days a week, all year round.
- Operating hours:
- 8:30am - 5:30pm
- (Tickets are sold until 4:30pm)
The entrance fee varies for adults and children and it includes entrance to the zoo, aquarium and reptile shed.
- Entrance Fee:
- Adult: R110
- Kids: R75
Golf Cart Rental available for zoo exploration (per hour): R100
Transport to the Zoo
If you are driving to the zoo, there is secured parking offered at R25 per car. However, because we encourage green initiatives: carpooling is king.
Gautrain Bus Service to Zoo
If you are requiring public transport and visiting from outside of Pretoria, the zoo is easily accessible.
There is a bus which leaves from the Gautrain (Gauteng Train) Pretoria Station. You have to board the CBD inner P2 bus and your stop will be the National Zoo which is stop number 7.
As previously mentioned, the Pretoria Zoo offers a variety of activities for all. This includes more than just the typical day time visiting.
Visiting the Zoo at Night
The Pretoria Zoo offers the next best thing to a real African safari. If time is not working in your favour, you can visit the zoo and join a sunset safari and camp within the grounds.
Sunset Walking Safari
This amazing opportunity allows for you to experience the animals outside of the normal zoo hours.
You get the chance to watch the day-time animals settle down as the nocturnal ones come to life.
You also receive a walking guided tour and get the lowdown on the animals, their environment, the current conservation crises and other interesting facets of the zoo and its wildlife.
These Sunset Safaris take place on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 1 Sept- 31st March. If you have booked for this activity, be sure to meet your guide by no later than 18h30 at the service entrance to the zoo in Boom Street, Pretoria.
You will then be accompanied to your venue and taken on a one-hour walking safari. This includes a unique encounter with their elephants. In addition to this, when you return to your venue, a braai fire will be ready for you to eat and enjoy the rest of the evening.
You will need to provide your own food, drinks, cutlery and crockery, however, the zoo will provide the table and chairs, braai stands as well as the charcoal. Be sure to vacate the premises by 23h30.
- Adult: R110 per person
- Kids: R95 per person
- School Group: R75 per person
Camping at the Zoo
If you are feeling more adventurous, you can decide to spend the night and camp at the zoo. You’ll get the same Sunset Walking Safari experience, but instead of leaving at 23h30, you can delegate to stay the night. Zoo camps take place on Fridays and Saturdays from 1 September - 31 March.
In addition to you bringing cooking equipment and food, you will need to bring your own camping gear. There is electricity available to boil water, so if your morning coffee is a necessary in order to wake up, be sure to bring a kettle. Hopefully you are a morning person though, as you will have to vacate the premises by 07h30 the next morning.
- Adult: R165 per person
- Children: R110 per person
- School group: R95 per person
Coming Soon: Rhino Encounters
The zoo is currently in the process of developing a rhino encounter experience for its patrons.
This is in the hope to raise money for the zoo’s rhino management and conservation programme.
In this experience, you will be able to spend the night in the zoo, separated from the rhinos and impalas only by a steel barrier. This experience will only be offered to small groups of adults (16 years and older).
Events at the Zoo
The zoo likes to get the community involved in its initiative and offers a variety of events for the community and its visitors to take part in.
Wild Dog Night Run
This event is sponsored by Trail Adventures. Here you are able to choose between a 4km or 8km night run through the zoo.
Flashlights are compulsory for this activity. Be sure to check out the Trail Adventure Night Series Facebook page for the next Wild Dog Night Run.
Children’s Party and Weddings
If you or your children are animal lovers, the zoo offers a great venue for children’s birthday parties or weddings. If you are interested, you can contact them: [email protected]
Pretoria Zoo Holiday Courses
This is a 4-day course for Grade 7-12 learners during the Gauteng school holidays. It introduces the learners to nature conversations and research.
They will explore the adaptations, behaviour and conservation crisis of the inhabitants at the zoo, aquarium and reptile shed.
The learners will get a chance to interact with the zoo’s staff including their veterinarians and conservationists.
This course runs from 09h00 to 16h00 over a 4-day period and is facilitated in English. On completion of the course, the learners will receive both a T-shirt and certificate.
There will also be the opportunity to join ZooClub, aiming to further encourage its members to follow a career in science and promoting conservation.
- R150 per learner
Learners are to bring their own lunch or make use of the restaurant.
- 12-15 December 2016
- 19-22 December 2016
- 3-6 January 2017
Adopt a Wild Animal
If you feel like you want to get more involved in the zoo or give your child the animal they have always wanted without having to bring it home, the zoo gives you the opportunity to adopt one of its animals.
What Does This Entail
You get the chance to be the proud parent of an animal for a year. The adoption fee ranges from R40- R1000 per animal per year. Depending on the category of animal you choose there are additional benefits.
By adopting an animal, you will get free tickets to the zoo and a personalized certificate of adoption. If you decide to donate R900 or more, you will have a sign erected next to your adopted animal’s enclosure with your name and the animal’s name on it.
Mbani Club is the Adopt-an-Animal Children’s Club. Here, there are a selection of animals suited to children’s tastes where they can choose and name their favourite animal. This is a standard adoption fee of R100, which includes free entry to visit their animal as well as a personalized adoption certificate.
If you are interested in this, you can complete an adoption form on the zoo’s website.
Fun Pretoria Zoo Facts
- The zoo is home to the third largest collection of exotic trees
- 6km long walkways run through the zoo
- More than 9087 different species of animals
- The zoo has been in existence for more than a century
- The world’s first zoo born white rhino was delivered here
The Pretoria zoo is a must-do if you are in the lesser known capital city. There is so much to do and it’s fun for the whole family. This experience is definitely one for the books and it’s an educational one too.
Knowledge is power, and what better way to get informed about South Africa’s animals than experiencing them first hand and helping support their conservation efforts.
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