Zoo Lake

A Worthwhile City Park
- 26 January 2013 -

Only till after I came home from Zoo Lake did I realise that I have already been there. I have never had the best memory and this clearly proves the fact. While downloading the images from the memory card to a folder I noticed a folder called Zoo Lake..... which was in actual fact a lunch I had there with some colleagues. Having a bad memory has it's benefits, I get to experience things over and over again with the same enjoyment as before.

Zoo lake is a Park which originated from a piece of land that was part of the Braamfontein Farm pre 1900 which was bought by a company owned by Hermann Eckstein. After he died in 1903 his business partners donated the land to the Johannesburg City Council with one condition that the Park remain open to the public.

Over the years a dam was built and the park was used for various purposes, which leads to what it is today.

The park is a lush green environment (at least in summer), which to a large degree is well kept. It consists of a dam, lush green grass fields and tall trees. There is a restaurant on the grounds, Moyo (the restaurant I came to with my colleagues). The park is used mainly for jogging and leisurely dog walks, but this morning I also came across a group of young photographers. I can clearly understand why... it is a beautiful setting and ideal for a "group photography" outing.

The dam is relatively large, with a large fountain in the centre. There are row boats which can be hired for a paddle out onto the water. I didn't see anyone go out, neither could I see anyone around that was managing the boats, so maybe it wasn't open this day, or perhaps a person needs to go to some office on the premises to rent the boat. Whichever it is, it wasn't my objective for the day.

Surrounding the dam is plenty of benches on the waters edge beneath tall shady trees, ideal for a rest if needed.

There is also an island close to the centre of the dam, which is inaccessible to the public, which is used as a safe haven for a relatively diverse species of birds. This haven obviously ensures good sightings of birds throughout the park.

I came across a duck which allowed me to get relatively close to him, but although I could see he was getting scared he didn't move, and was more than likely injured or very old. I felt obligated to assist, but soon realised that what comes with an abundance of birds and breeding, comes death too and it is all part of the natural process of life. So I moved on, slowly, as not to make him more nervous, and leave him to either recover or die in peace.

Although the park and dam is relatively well looked after, I did come across some water pollution and abuse of the park, where obviously some characters come to either sleep or party after hours.

I also came across some interesting roots that made for interesting photography.

Besides walking with dogs the park is ideal for a walk with your kids. Although I'm sure it is not encouraged to feed the ducks and bird life, it is probably the most exciting activity for kids.... if you decide to break the rules.

Moving away from the water is just as spectacular. Ideal for picnics, jogging and photography shoots. I also came across a group training for boxing or some type of martial arts.

This part of the park is filled with tall pine trees, which makes sense as before this land was converted into a park it was used as a tree plantation. There are many tree stumps around and some chopped tree lying on the ground. I assume to maintain the green grass, too many tree can create a problem so some tree felling is required from time to time.

Near the main parking lot is where you will find the Moyo restaurant I mentioned earlier. You can find Moyo restaurants at similar locations all over Gauteng. I know of one in the Fountains Nature Reseve in Pretoria too.

If you looking for a green, well kept park with a water feature and restaurant, this is an ideal place. For me visiting here often doesn't really make sense, it is a bit out of my way.

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