KwaZulu Natal Tourist AttractionsThe Natal Zoological Gardens
Surprisingly, the Natal Zoological Gardens do not reside in Durban as one might expect but rather roughly 25 kilometres before one reaches Pietermaritzburg, in Hammarsdale, exit 65 from the N3 on the Lynnfieldpark offramp.
Where? Umlaas Road, Lynnfieldpark, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal
Who? +27 (0)31 785-4707
It also serves as Natal's Lion Park, even if the lion enclosure is rather small and the lions said to have a 'thing' for car tyres. Let this not deter you, however, as a visit is worth meeting face-to-face with a fossa, a group of fossas, actually, upon entrance into the zoo. This rather odd animal is found only in Madagascar, a furry little carnivore that lives mainly in the rainforests and wooded savannas of the island just off the coast of Africa. They are fierce little hunters on the verge of extinction.
The Natal Zoological Gardens are a collection of both local and unusual animals – 44 different animal species to be precise. Aside from the fossas, there are leopards, various primates, a series of birds that include the black swan, crowned crane, peacock and blue crane, lemurs, parrots, kookaburras; Bengal tigers, white tigers, tapirs (South American herbivores that look a little like wild pigs with rather long snouts), emus, llama and more.
The highlights of the zoo include the Bengal tigers, some of the world's largest predators, the white tigers, also from Bengal but with a slight discolouration, and the tapir from Brazil. This herbivore is wonderful to look at and tame enough to hand feed.
Whilst not everyone enjoys seeing animals in enclosures, particularly as so many of them are endangered, zoos do serve an important role in conservation – they preserve and protect wildlife, even if questionably.