One Hour In Zambia: Run-Down Zoo near Lusaka Transformed into Botanical Garden, Animal Sanctuary


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Visitors check out rescued animals at Munda Wanga, an animal sanctuary and botanical garden south of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. More than 45 types of animals are on display at the park. Prudence Phiri, GPJ Zambia

Global Press Journal reporters offer unique insights into their communities. In this new series, How to Spend an Hour In: reporters take you inside their communities to highlight unique landmarks and cultural touchstones. Today from Global Press Journal Zambia: Enjoy native plants and animals at Munda Wanga, a botanical garden and animal refuge.

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Once a dilapidated zoo, a popular animal sanctuary south of Lusaka is now called Munda Wanga, which means “My Garden” in a local language, Nyanja. Located about 7 miles from Zambia’s capital city, the environmental park features more than 45 types of animals and a botanical garden with more than 1,000 plant species.

Munda Wanga is a place for relaxing. Shrubs and trees provide shade over tranquil pathways. Visitors can lie on green grass and gaze at colorful blossoming plants. Sculptures stud areas around a stream and man-made ponds.

It’s also a place for learning and playing. More than 40,000 schoolchildren and their teachers visit every year, says Tipilile Silwamba, a revenue collector at the park. They watch the lions, cheetahs, camels, wild pigs, impalas and other animals, which are kept in enclosures.

Many of the animals in the sanctuary were rescued from bush meat and pet traders. While some will be released into the wild after being rehabilitated, others are expected to live out their lives in the sanctuary.

Visitors learn about environmental conservation and wildlife management at an education center.

The park also boasts a playground and swimming pool, plus a bar and restaurant.

Munda Wanga was established around 1950 as a private botanical garden where Zambian artisans, including sculptors and bricklayers, could show off their skills. The Zambian government bought the site in the late 1960s and added a zoo, but Munda Wanga and its animals fared poorly until 1998, when the Munda Wanga Trust took it over. Now, the Zambia Wildlife Authority controls the park.

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Munda Wanga features a botanical garden with more than 1,000 plant species.

Prudence Phiri, GPJ Zambia

Sculptures are on display at Munda Wanga, which began as a private botanical garden where Zambian artisans, including sculptors and bricklayers, could show off their skills.

Prudence Phiri, GPJ Zambia

Annie and her daughter Yasminie check out a camel during a visit to Munda Wanga.

Prudence Phiri, GPJ Zambia

Munda Wanga’s playground is an added draw for young families.

Prudence Phiri, GPJ Zambia

Munda Wanga offers plenty of resting spots. At the education center, visitors learn about environmental conservation and wildlife management.

Prudence Phiri, GPJ Zambia

Young visitors to Munda Wanga splash in the pool.

Prudence Phiri, GPJ Zambia

Munda Wanga visitors enjoy a barbecue.

Prudence Phiri, GPJ Zambia


Munda Wanga is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (last entry at 5 p.m.) from April to July and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (last entry at 6 p.m.) from August to March. Admission is about $3.30 for adults, about $2 for children between the ages of 2 and 13, and free to children under 2. Groups of more than 20 that book in advance receive a discount. Educational discounts are also available. Call 260-21-1278-614 or visit for more information.