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Groote Schuur Zoo - Lion's Den
Cape Town, Western Cape

Sir Herbert BAKER: Architect

Type:Zoological Gardens


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33°57'42.99" S 18°27'30.03" E Alt: 105m

Cecil Rhodes had a herbivorous menagerie on his estate and in 1896 he was given two lions and a leopard, for which he built an extension onto the menagerie to house the creatures.

On the slopes just above the land presently occupied by the University of Cape Town, a cage like structure was built in 1897 to house lions, opposite the tarred access road. In 1930 this structure was demolished and replaced by a new lion enclosure which was known as Groote Schuur Zoo. It has been vacant since 1975.

He [Rhodes] once planned a huge Court partly paved with marble and surrounded by colonnades for his lions, so that the king of beasts might be royally housed. This was the first idea of a Menagerie on the mountain slope where are now the cages of the animals collected by him and others, with fields beyond, fenced in for wilde-beeste, ostriches and deer, and pines for shade and shelter from the winds. (Lewis et al 1934:137)

The Groote Schuur Zoo was a 2 hectare zoo in Cape Town, South Africa. Established in 1931 at the request of deceased Cecil Rhodes. It is now part of the University of Cape Town. Before Rhodes died he and Baker has envisaged a Lion House on the slopes of the mountain. 'A Paestum temple was in his mind where the king of beasts would be admired in his natural strength and dignity.' (Greig 1970:101) The Lion Den was designed by Baker with inspiration from the Temple of Poseidon, Paestum, near Naples, Italy. He made a sketch in 1900 of the temple with the Lion Den in mind. The zoo closed in about 1980.

See also Wikipedia.

Writings about this entry

Greig, Doreen. 1970. Herbert Baker in South Africa. Cape Town: PURNELL. pg 101-102
Lewis, Cecil and Edwards, GE. 1934 (1927). Cape Town : Treasures of the Mother City of South Africa (Revised Edition). Cape Town: Speciality Press of SA. pg 137