The land was originally part of the Braamfontein farm. The owner, Hermann Eckstein, was a mining magnate and bought it for the potential exploitation of minerals. When that failed, he planted about 3 million trees as a timber plantation. This private forest was named Sachsenwald (that is where the suburbs Saxonworld and Forest Town got their names from) and became a favourite recreational spot for the wealthy Randlonds and their families. In 1904 part of the land was donated to the Johannesburg Town council.
What I was interested to learn is that the donation was made on the condition that the grounds would be open to all races. This ensured that both the zoo and the lake area remained opened to all races during the apartheid era.
The lake itself was built by the city council in 1906.
Once a week I drive with Daniel past Zoo Lake and, as part of our ongoing effort to expand his vocabulary, we turned to the theme of all things to do with PARKS. So, of course we just had to stop and feed the ducks! As we took a stroll around the water’s edge, the ducks sensed that we had food and our stroll turned into a desperate flee from the mob! I read later that they are ‘ravenous during the week, but overfed on weekends’. Therefore, fair warning: go and feed the ducks during the week if you want any reaction from them at all, but be prepared to get more enthusiasm than you may have bargained for!
Image credits: All photography by me