Bloemfontein Zoo, established in 1920, is one of the oldest zoos in South Africa. The zoo is situated in Bloemfontein’s Kings Park, the city’s largest green open space and home to over 4000 rose bushes. The zoo covers 15 hectares of grounds and is home to a variety of animals, including 65 mammal species and many exotic birds.
Although the zoo has always been a popular local attraction, it became world-renowned in 2005 when one of its chimps (Charlie) developed a smoking habit after mimicking visitors who were smoking, and was aired on international news channels. The zoo made a concerted effort to help Charlie stop smoking and discouraged visitors from giving him any cigarettes.
In addition to Charlie the Chimp, the zoo also boasts a variety of other primate species such as gorilla, as well as a significant collection of big cat species. Visitors to the park can expect to see the animals that form part of the famous Big Five, as well as tigers, hippos, panthers, and antelope. The zoo was interestingly the pioneer of the breeding of the “ligerâ€ species; a cross between a lion and a tiger. Although further breeding of this species is frowned upon, a couple living ligers can still be seen today.
Visitors to the park can take part in a variety of tours run by “Friends of the Bloemfontein Zooâ€, such as cheetah interactions and, most notably, the ‘Zoo Snooze’ where you can enjoy a fun sleep over at the zoo. All funds raised by this group go toward the betterment of the zoo.