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Bloemfontein Zoo set to re-open in June

THE Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality is looking to re-open the Bloemfontein Zoo on 5 June, more than four years after it was permanently shut down due to permit breaches and its shocking state of neglect.

The municipality has spent around R8-million to refurbish the facility.

“The team is busy cleaning, painting and repairing the enclosures and we are almost 100 percent ready to open,” Mangaung city manager Sello More told The Free Stater after visiting the zoo for an assessment.

“Already, the process of permits is at the last stage of approval,” he added.

More said the first phase of the re-opening of the zoo will only “accommodate small animals like primates, small cats and antelopes as well as swans and buffalo”.

“The proposed date is the 5th of June after council approval to rescind the 2013 resolution of moving the entire zoo to Kwaggafontein,” he said.

More said it was important to have the zoo functional again.

“It’s one of the few places that Mangaung can brag about and bring back international tourists to the city. Our kids are hungry to see live animals,” he said.

Founded in 1906 in the heart of the Free State capital, the Bloemfontein Zoo was once a popular tourist attraction before mismanagement turned it into an eyesore where algae-infected water, carcasses and faeces strewn in cages became common sights.

Following its closure in 2019, various species of animals – including predators, primates, reptiles, mammals, birds and rodents – were relocated to wildlife sanctuaries elsewhere across the country.

Only 11 buffaloes were left abandoned at the park, with the municipality that owns the facility shockingly revealing that its 2022/23 budget did not have any provisions for their upkeep.

Plans to relocate the zoo to Kwaggafontein Game Farm on the outskirts of the city failed to materialise since 2013.

More said the municipality was now doing things differently to ensure the zoo is not neglected again.

“Among other things, there is support of management, qualified people are to be appointed and there will be expansion of the structure to accommodate areas like animal enrichment and educational facilities,” he said. – Staff Reporter

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