One of the oldest zoos and animal sanctuaries in South Africa, the Bloemfontein Zoo, like most such institutions in South Africa, as much a conservation centre as a place where people can view ‘wild’ animals close up.
The Zoo covers an area of 15ha and represents a broad spectrum of animals from around the world, including Africa’s Big 5, and is also known for an excellent collection of primates, including chimpanzee and gorilla, and an even better collection of big cat species.
It is rumoured that it is also one of the few places where you can see a very rare and unusual animal no-one would ever see on the wild. ‘Ligers’ are crosses between Lions and Tigers, and the Bloemfontein Zoo has had a few of them over the years. Today the deliberate breeding of Ligers is frowned upon, but there are some animals still living, and they are quite a sight to behold. They grow far bigger than either lions or tigers and are also known to be more docile.
You can also meet Max the Chimp, who became world famous some years ago for developing a smoking habit. This was not the zoos fault. A visitors gave him the ciggies, and he became a ‘smoking chimp’ hit. He has been rehabilitated, but it is said it wasn’t an easy job as people would give him smokes and he’d hide them from his keepers! He was even featured on CNN.
Dubious animal antics well in the past, Bloemfontein Zoo is today a world class institution that is managed by Pan African Association of Zoos, Aquaria and Botanical Gardens (PAAZAB) to very high standards.
For more on the Bloemfontein Zoo, e-mail.
Getting there: Bloemfontein Zoo is situated in Harry Street in King’s Park.
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