Cape Town is home to some incredible attractions, such as the Table Mountain Cableway and the Cape Wheel. The remnants of another attraction can be seen just off the campus of the University of Cape Town.

The Groote Schuur Zoo or Cape Town Zoo was originally built in 1897 by Cecil John Rhodes, and started out as a means for him to house several lions and leopards that were given to him as a gift. He hoped the menagerie would grow to host animals from the across the British Empire.

In 1931, the lion’s den Rhodes had built was demolished by the State, and was free of charge to visit. There are varying accounts of when exactly the zoo officially shut down, but the general consensus is that the closure took place between 1975 and 1985.

The zoo was closed down because it became a financial burden to the government and animal welfare became more important.

While the zoo was at its peak, it was home to a number of animals, including tahrs, emus, and crocodiles. Many believe the tahrs from the zoo escaped to Table Mountain, where they began overrunning the area. It is also widely believed that there was a lion who escaped and bred in the Table Mountain area as well.

The remnants of the zoo can still be visited today, and its most prominent feature is the lion’s den.

There are also remains of a concrete pool, stone lions and a flagstone rendition of the Dutch pentagonal star.

Source: Flickr/Picasa
Source: Flickr/Picasa
Source: Zandvliet Trust
Source: Table Mountain Live Stream

Pictures: Zandvliet Trust/Philip Short

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.