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Pretoria. Jakaranda Stad. Diplomatic Capital of South Africa. Tshwane.

It’s the place for people with one foot in the Joburg rat-race to live. Most of the city lies to the east of the CBD and is suburban, with lawns, pools and other middle-class trappings. The town planners lined the streets with Jacaranda trees which ignite the city into a blaze of purple in late spring. What no one tells you is that in the middle of the Jacaranda-lined streets of the city lies the biggest zoo in the country.

It is massive. It stretches of 80 hectare, has thousands of species on display, active breeding programmes and contributes to research. The Pretoria Zoo takes itself seriously.

Some of the highlights
Koalas – these cuties have their own air-conditioned domes where they can munch on all the Eucaliptis leaves they want inbetween their 19-hours of sleep. The walkways are a story up so visitors can see them in their trees at eye-level.

Gorillia – 200kg of slumbering doormat is all i saw but the enclosure is excellent, the glassed off area giving you a private eye into his world reminded me of the 2 Oceans Aquarium‘s shark tank. More the expanse of glass and the quiet than the actual animal inside. You get my drift.

Red Panda – the makers of Chuckie have nothing on him. Like a live teddy bear this guy paced his enclosure, sniffed about and nibbled off a few things while I was watching. His name’s apparently Hobbit and it was his birthday the other day too, he probably recieved a block of ice with fruit frozen inside it as a gift. This I found out from the information boards on the sides of the exhibits – they are very organised indeed.

The tigers, lions, mountain goats, hippos, elephants, giaraffes not to mention every bird of prey you’ve ever seen or reptile or fish were also pretty spectacular. When you go be sure to take a picnic cause walking about builds up an appetite pretty quickly.

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