The Old Testament, that influential compendium of pastoral metaphors, doesn't go into much detail about how Noah kept his animal cargo while at sea, or how he dispersed them after the great floodwaters receded. I asked the 71-year-old quad bike-riding native of Cape Town, who wears her grey hair cropped short, to detail the Noah-like task she faced when, earlier this year, she decided voluntarily to disband her collection of wild animals. To underscore her point, Spence invited me to watch the removal of two Bengal tigers by a team from the Drakenstein Lion Park, a sanctuary near Paarl. Not long after opening their venture on Cape Town's northern urban edge, they relocated to a site adjacent to the highway.
The quarried stone remnants of this zoo, which are overgrown and covered with graffiti, suggest an unhappy prison rather than a place of wonder.
The opening of the Groote Schuur Zoo predated the establishment of the country's largest zoo, in Pretoria, by two years. The exchange is quoted in The Founder, Robert Rotberg's exhaustive 1990 biography of Rhodes. When the Groote Schuur Zoo closed in 1975, some of its monkey population was driven along the N1 to her husband's fledgling zoo set in the endangered Swartland shale renosterveld ecosystem.
Seated under a large tree that shaded the veranda for guests, Spence was frank about her decision to close the zoo. Formerly the director of the Johannesburg Zoo, Van der Spuy took over the running of the association in August. Despite the limitations of his new job, he is committed to making African zoos leaders in conservation, education, recreation and research. They include the Brazzaville Zoo, a Belgian-built colonial relic that made headlines in 2007 when 20 Congolese Pygmy performers at a music festival were lodged in tents in enclosures at the zoo. Dominic Moss, executive manager of conservation and research at the Johannesburg Zoo, agreed. Although zoos are not the most sensible profit-making scheme, profit-minded private entrepreneurs have played an important role in expanding the potential of zoos, Van der Spuy said. Founded 17 years ago by Esther van der Westhuizen, a former zoology lecturer, and her mother, Butterfly World's displays include nectar-feeding tropical lepidoptera hatched from pupae flown in from Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Philippines and Thailand and a growing list of rescued animals, chiefly exotic birds and reptiles, including a bearded dragon suffering from osteoporosis.
Notwithstanding the wealth of its financial stakeholders, the aquarium is reliant on a R200000 annual donation of fresh fish from I&J. The aquarium runs several conservation initiatives, including movement studies of cow sharks and breed-and-release programmes involving loggerhead turtles and endangered African penguins.
Writing in the June issue of Harper's, which devoted its cover story to the Bronx Zoo, David Samuels remarks how Western zoos have evolved from menageries into living museums and conservation centres.
Increasingly, particularly as the world inexorably urbanises, nature is what appears on television, in print or, if you attend a school in a low-income neighbourhood of the Western Cape, what arrives in the back of Thabo Sabeko's panel van. Sabeko, who was born and raised in the Eastern Cape near Queenstown, where he trapped and released locusts and rabbits for fun, came to his current job through a stint as a theatre technician. Brooklyn Business Directory in Pretoria has a thriving and continually expanding business community.


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Also named sun conures, these gregarious yellow, orange and green birds from South America are known for their shrill screams. On display were lions, crocodiles, ostriches, zebras, eland, wildebeest, kangaroos, wallabies and emus.
Famous escapees include European starlings and a pair of Himalayan tahrs, obtained from the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria in the 1930s. Like the empty historical cages at the flagship national institution, also like those at the nearby Johannesburg Zoo, a municipal venture established in 1904, the ruins at the Groote Schuur estate speak of a time when animals were collected like stamps and displayed as trophies.
They promoted amateur science, made manifest the discoveries of colonial adventurism, provided an outlet for leisure (promenading), contributed to urban regeneration and served as vectors for property development. This is no less true of Rhodes, whose animal husbandry initiatives extended to the creation of a small zoo at his reserve in the Matopos near Bulawayo.
The meagre lion cages he erected instead suggest that sentimental over-­identification with his fearsome cats trumped debate about the ethics of captivity. As the executive director of Paazab, the African Association of Zoos and Aquaria, he is sometimes obligated to wear a suit and tie, although he generally looks more at ease in bush-ready khaki. Western media reporting on the story failed to mention that, in 1906, a Pygmy named Ota Benga was displayed at the Bronx Zoo. The spread of joint-stock zoological societies in Europe at the start of the 20th century brought with it the first liberalisation of access to zoos, write Baratay and Hardouin-Fugier, attracting leisure-seeking middle-class clientele with cash to spend. In Cape Town, the popular Two Oceans Aquarium, a joint venture between V&A Waterfront Holdings and Investec Bank, is another example of a successful corporate-owned private zoo. She is happy she no longer has to deal with the seesawing price of hay for the farm animals she also kept.
Farquhar showed me the huge kitchen where aquarium meals are prepared in much the same way as at Butterfly World.
Besides some exotic spider crabs from Japan, its focus is exclusively on marine animals from the southern Atlantic and Indian oceans. These initiatives are crucial to answering basic ethical concerns about the validity of zoos in contemporary society.


The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums estimates that 600-million people visit zoos annually around the world. During the school term, he pilots his mobile ark (a Toyota Quantum) to schools on the Cape Flats and other Western Cape towns such as Lamberts Bay and Swellendam.
When he started his new job in 2008, he had to mop up after school visits to the aquarium's education centre. Personally, I simply view it as snapshot of a fragile encounter from an increasingly broken planet, one whose sacred wild is increasingly a fiction in need of managed defence. From computer stores, Advertising companies, Auto Electricians, Stone Cladding, pawn shops with second hand items, Car wash companies, entertainment venues, filtration technology, lawn and garden services, home handyman and home maintenance, liquor stores, to painting and plumbing, you will find it here! We are selling tickets for domestic and international South African flights with competitive prices. We specialize in the manufacturing of quality meranti wooden windows and doors, and have been doing so for the past ten years.
Tigger (13), a large male tiger acquired from circus legend Brian Boswell, refused to go down after an initial dose and was darted again.
Frequented mostly by families, it filled a vacuum created by the demise of another local zoo. Its birdcages were stocked with nightingales, ­chaffinches, thrushes, blackbirds and rooks.
Both the birds and the wild goats prospered and are now considered pests; the tahrs, though, have long outwitted rangers and specialist snipers contracted to eradicate them. His duties range from administration and fundraising to the implementation of standards and protocols relevant to the association's 41 members.
The popular casino and leisure resort north of Johannesburg is home to an odd assortment of animals, including rainbow lorikeets, macaws and cockatoos, venomous snakes, lemurs and sloths (of the animal sort). Once set up, he shows children his collection of starfish, sea urchins, clams, sea cucumbers, anemone and rock lobsters.
The labour terrified him – in much the same way the aquarium terrified his mother when she first visited.
Most are South African, but there are also member zoos in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Uganda, Egypt and Ethiopia. Spence, a fashionably dressed zookeeper, quietly observed this strange, almost reverent exchange from a distance.



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