Cape Town zoo closes

Tygerberg Zoo, situated near Stellenbosch about 40km north of Cape Town, has closed after 33 years.

The zoo was closed because of high maintenance costs and dwindling visitor numbers, according to owner Lorraine Spence who established the zoo with her late husband John in 1979. Spence said that Tygerberg was a member of the African Association of Zoos and that the animals have been sold to accredited sources.

The 24-hectare zoo was home to lions, tigers, zebras, cheetahs, chimpanzees and marmosets, as well as 160 bird species and 63 types of reptile. Tygerberg also specialised in breeding rare and endangered animals.

The lions, tigers and chimpanzees have gone to the 50-hectare Drakenstein Lion Park near Paarl in the Cape Winelands, north of Stellenbosch. The chimpanzees will be housed in Drakenstein’s new "Chimp Haven" which is currently under construction. The facility has been designed specifically to house the displaced Tygerberg chimpanzees and is set to open in December.

Tygerberg was most popular with school tours but visitors often complained that the zoo’s extensive wire railings made it hard to interact or photograph the resident animals.