I will never forget the first time I went to Tygerberg Zoo back in it’s hayday. Walking through the gate up the little path through a lush garden towards the ticket booth. Sharing excitement with your friends while you wait for the friendly lady to wave you through and then skipping down the little path towards the first animals on the way! I remember the excitement at watching the monkeys go crazy, the day the Orang-outang threw poop at the shrieking crowd, the little monkeys that escaped from their cage to beg for snacks from visitors. My mother loved feeding them, you used to be able to buy peanuts for the monkeys. I remember the sensation of the tiny little beast nimbly grabbing the nut from my nervous outstretched hand. I was so surprised at how warm his hand was. I remember how exciting it was to see the bears. Those big creatures in their specially built confinement that engraved the impression of how large and scary they were. The nervousness of watching a real live lion napping just a few metres away behind a wire that suddenly seems awfully flimsy.

 

These were my impressions of the zoo as a child, but visiting the same zoo now, years later, fills me with a slight disappointment. The once proud establishment seems to have taken some knocks through the years with a lack of funding, no doubt. I agree with the conservation of animals in their natural habitat, however, all the arguments about animals in captivity aside, I think these kinds of establishments offer a valuable educational and  rehabilitation service. Considering South Africa’s tourism relies heavily on it’s fauna and flora, I honestly think its a damn shame that more isn’t being done to promote the zoo and bring about some bedazzling to help bring in a steady flow of visitors to keep the boat afloat.

 

All things aside, I had a wonderful day at the zoo today, and even though the little paths have made way to dusty footpaths and the woosh of N1 traffic makes for a bleak soundtrack, the beautiful animals at Tygerberg Zoo shine brightly in the absence of tourist glam. Next time you don’t know what to do with your Sunday afternoon, go and visit. Don’t worry about packing lunch, they make a mean burger, and while you’re at it, I think there’s still a few adorable monkeys that need to be adopted. Just to inspire you, here are some of my snaps of the day. Among my favourites, check out the gorgeous and totally adorable Mandarin Ducks! SO cute!!

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To go to the Tygerberg Zoo website, click here.

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