The oldest and largest zoo in the country, the National Zoological Gardens in downtown Pretoria boasts a collection of wildlife that is second to none, including an extremely rare white tiger, a plethora of unusual insects and a host of large carnivores.

Did you know?

The first white rhino born in captivity was delivered at the Pretoria Zoo.

The only zoo with national status in the country, the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa first opened in 1899 and has become one of the top-rated zoos in the world, attracting over 600 000 visitors annually.

More widely know as the Pretoria Zoo, the National Zoological Gardens has well over 3 000 individual animals representing over 500 different species and the collection includes mammals, fish, birds, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles.

Situated on 85ha in downtown Pretoria, the zoo also boasts the largest inland aquarium in the country, a well-appointed reptile park and the third largest collection of exotic trees in South Africa.

While these zoological gardens have many rare and unusual specimens, gone are the days when zoos were merely a glorified list of the odd and exotic held in cages; today zoos play an important role in conservation efforts and the Pretoria Zoo is at the forefront of these efforts, forming part of the National Research Foundation.

But if it's animals you've come to see the Pretoria Zoo will satisfy all your cravings. All the usual suspects are here, held in spacious enclosures designed to mimic the animal's natural habitat as best as possible. The zoo also holds one of the few white tigers in captivity, and is the only zoo in the world to feature an insectarium.

A wonderful innovation is the Adopt-an-Animal scheme that helps provide support for the animal's food and care for a year. Join the scheme and your entrance to the zoo is free, allowing you to visit your wild child as often as you like.

The Pretoria Zoo features a full range of tours and programmes, including overnight camping options and moonlight tours, perfect for viewing some of the more elusive nocturnal animals.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

National Zoological Gardens
Tel: +27 (0)12 323 4540

How to get here

The National Zoological Gardens are in Boom Street, in downtown Pretoria, and easily accessible by car, bus or taxi. There is plenty of parking available.

Best time to visit

The Pretoria Zoo is open daily between 8.30am and 5.30pm. The cableway operates between 10am and 4.15pm.

Tours to do

The Pretoria Zoo offers a range of tours including overnight camping tours and a moonlight tour. For something different why not host your child's birthday party at the zoo?

Get around

Golf carts and children's pushcarts are available for a fee. A mini-train also does a circuit of the zoo.

What will it cost

R66 for adults, R44 for children under the age of 15. There are also special tour group rates available, visit the website for more information.

What to pack

Comfortable walking shoes and, in summer, sunscreen and a hat. Don't forget the camera.

What to eat

A cafeteria offers light meals and snacks. There is also a sit-down restaurant for larger meals and several kiosks selling snacks and cool-drinks.

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