In a recently published opinion piece by a user on News24.com, certain sentiments were expressed on the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa’s (NZG) ability to manage and maintain a national tourist attraction.
The piece referred to the condition of the Apies River that flows through a section of the NZG. The NZG would like to set the record straight on this matter. The Apies River’s source is located to the south of the city and flows through the city centre of which only a small part flows through the NZG (approximately 900m).
The opinion piece made reference to large volumes of litter found in and on the banks of the river. The writer failed to mention that the evening before and the morning of his attendance of the Friends Fun Walk rain fell throughout Pretoria. The entire city centre’s storm water drains flow into the Apies River. With this deluge of water, comes the commensurate litter found in the city streets. All this garbage then flows through the NZG’s part of the Apies River.
In an attempt to address this matter, the NZG has built a litter trap upstream into the river bed to trap the litter as it flows down the river. This was done at a great expense to the NZG in an effort to keep our part of the river clean. However, large volumes of litter that flow from the city’s storm water drains after rains push up against the trap and may result in an overflow. The staff of the NZG clean out the litter trap once a week and place the rubbish on the river bank for later collection.
The official opening time of the NZG is 08h30 daily and the writer admits to have gone off on his own earlier than the official start of the Fun Walk at 06h30. This means that we do not yet have staff on the ground to remove any waste that may be in the river. The NZG, as with all other organisations, is bound by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and various health and safety legislations, that impact on its operations.
The reason that the writer may have encountered a bad smell is as a result of a leaking sewerage pipe at the Caledonian Stadium in Sunnyside that flows into the Apies River. The City of Tshwane is aware of this and is attending to the problem. This situation is out of the control of the NZG, and this also impacts on its ability to clean the river.
The writer also fails to mention in his opinion piece that he was in an off-display area; not on any designated pathway and most definitely not part of the Friends Fun Walk route.
Abandoned buildings are also mentioned in the writer’s opinion piece. The NZG inherited the old Oostelikes Sports Grounds some time ago and these buildings are not currently used, but have been earmarked for development in the future. These buildings are largely in the same state as they were when we received them. Once again, the writer was in staff-only designated area and the buildings in question are not used by NZG staff.
In no way, do any of the issues raised by the writer impact on the animal collection of the NZG or on its ability to meet its various mandates. We welcome readers to visit the NZG and engage with us in any matter.