South Africa's aquariums and zoos are an important facet of the country's conservation ethic and offer visitors the opportunity of a wildlife adventure within an urban environment. Though South Africa is better known for its many game parks and reserves, the zoos and aquariums of the country are just as worthwhile.

Did you know?

The uShaka Marine World is the world's fifth largest aquarium by water volume.

South Africa has such an abundance of wildlife in its natural habitat that one wonders why aquariums and zoos are even necessary. The answer is simple – to educate, to conserve, to entertain.

Though nothing much beats seeing a pride of lions or a school of dolphins in their natural habitat, it does take a certain amount of luck and time to be certain of seeing such wildlife; South Africa's zoos and aquariums allow visitors to see all the animals they desire without travelling far and wide.

Amongst South African zoos, the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria (also known as the Pretoria Zoo) is regarded as one of the finest zoos in the world. It has well over 3 000 animals and boasts the largest inland aquarium in the country, as well as a well-appointed reptile park, a stunning walk-in aviary and the third largest collection of exotic trees in South Africa.

Next is the Johannesburg Zoo, a green expanse set smack-bang in the middle of Johannesburg's urban sprawl. It is home to over 2 000 animals representing 360 different species. This zoo is also one of the very few in the world to have successfully bred the Siberian tiger and the white lion, two of the rarest animals on earth.

When it comes to marine life and South African aquariums, one is spoilt for choice. In Durban is the magnificent uShaka Marine World, the fifth largest aquarium in the world. Cape Town boasts the excellent Two Oceans Aquarium, home to magnificent kelp forests and a thrilling predator exhibit. And the East London Aquarium in the Eastern Cape has some of the finest seal shows in the world as well as a breeding colony of African penguins.

Add to these a choice of smaller, private-run zoos, aquariums and reptile parks dotted across the country and you have a network of wildlife havens showcasing the best the natural world has to offer.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Pretoria Zoo
Tel: +27 (0)12 328 3265

Johannesburg Zoo
Tel: +27 (0)11 646-200

Two Oceans Aquarium, Cape Town
Tel: +27 (0)21 418 3823

uShaka Marine World, Durban
Tel: +27(031) 328 8000/90