Scott Hanselman

South Africa 2008 - Johannesburg Zoo

December 24, 2008 Comment on this post [8] Posted in Africa
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We drove to the Joburg Zoo today. I had VERY low expectations for a couple of reasons, most of which were not rational in retrospect. My mom was a zookeeper at the Washington Park Zoo for years, working with elephants and birds of prey. We are members to the zoo and we go all the time. We also visit zoos when we go to other cities.

We've also been to Chipangali in Zimbabwe and it was really run down. One of the mistakes I've made on this trip is assuming that things in Zim relate in any way to things in South Africa. Zim as I know it is gone, and South Africa is more developed every time I visit. I won't underestimate this country again.

This is a REALLY cool zoo. I'd say even the best zoo I've ever visited, including the San Diego zoo. It's massive beyond reason for a city zoo. You can even rent a little cart and drive around as walking will take all day. We spent 5 hours there and didn't scratch the surface. The size of the fences are really small, which is a treat as you can get REALLY close to the animals. We were all of ten feet from a giraffe.

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I'd really recommend you not miss it if you are in Joburg.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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December 24, 2008 5:26
I found the Jhb zoo to pale in comparison to the Pretoria zoo. There is also a very cool park called Lory Park Zoo ( in Midrand on the way to Pretoria.
December 24, 2008 12:25
I can
December 24, 2008 12:28
I can recommend a few places where you can get as close to some of the animals, with no fences. A bit further out of town, but absolutely awesome.
December 24, 2008 19:38
I'm not sure I agree with Craig; they are both excellent zoos but different. As fans of zoos you really should try and visit the Pretoria zoo while you are here.

Also, if you have any interest in military history, there is an excellent military history museum at the top end of Johannesburg zoo. You may have seen the large war memorial at the top of the hill.
December 26, 2008 18:06
December 30, 2008 2:36
This is an amazing park in Spain, sadly, no english version of the site.

If you ever go to see the Altamira caves, pay the park a visit (same region).
January 05, 2009 7:14
One of the things we miss most about Cincinnati, Ohio is its zoo. we were members and my wife took the kids almost weekly. We were hopeful that we'd get to go there while we were in Ohio for the holidays, but it was just too freaking cold (sub-zero F with windchill). My wife has been to both Cincinnati's Zoo and the San Diego Zoo and I think she prefers Cincinnati. If you ever get the chance to see it, do! They recently built a deck where you can feed giraffes out of your hand, although we moved to Redmond, WA before it opened.
January 29, 2009 9:35

Woo - if your kids like animals, and you're in Jozie again, take them to the Jhb Lion Park. They can feed the giraffes there, pet baby lions. The guy that owns the place trains his animals for movies and commercials and so on, so they are used to people. It's very small, but interesting.

Also a wonderful bird park - but I forget the name, in Durban, as well as the huge bird park next to the huge monkey preserve down on the coast near Tsitsikama and near that an elephant "orphanage" where you can walk with and feed the elephants.

I just went to SA for 3 months, and taught for two, toured for one, but it was animals and music I wanted to see and did a fairly good job <G>

And yes, the time thing makes you grind your teeth sometimes (your account actually made me giggle), but I got used to that on my many visits to Cuba. Cuban buses particularly take some getting used to, as if the schedule says it leaves at 7 p.m., but there are lots of people on it by 6:30, it will leave. If there aren't lots of people on it, it may wait until 9 to see if more will come.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.