13/03/2018 11:23 SAST | Updated 13/03/2018 11:24 SAST

Remember When Children Could Ride Elephants At Johannesburg Zoo?

It's been 114 years since the zoo opened, and some pretty bizarre things have happened there.

Johannesburg Heritage Foundation

Friends of the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation have been sharing the history of the Johannesburg Zoo, which turns 114 this year, and you'll be amazed at how the legendary institution looked back then, compared to the way it looks today.

A number of people recalled their childhoods in the city, where they would go for Indian elephant rides at the zoo in the 1940s, with some recalling rides as late as the 1970s. Others commented on the "disgusting and inhumane" conditions under which some of the wild cats lived in the zoo back then.


Most glaringly obvious in the visuals of the group's zoo birthday memories is apartheid exclusion: not a single black person is identifiable in most of the postcards posted online.

Also startling was the vast "Sachsenwald" forest at the time surrounding the zoo – Saxonwold and Forest Town were only developed residentially from the mid-1920s.

Johannesburg Heritage Foundation


The zoo is hosting a month full of activities celebrating its birthday during March, so make sure you follow their social media pages to take part in the festivities.