This book is part of a body of work that also includes an exhibition of photographs which present the remains of the Groote Schuur zoo. This book contains much of the information I have found on the zoo’s history, and as such it forms an archive of sorts. This research was conducted as my final project towards my undergraduate degree. I came across the site inadvertently and was confused and intrigued by its obscurity. My curiosity was only increased when I could not immediately find any information on the site. I began by photographing the current state of the space, as well as undertaking research in archives and libraries. Over the course of the year this evolved into also making and documenting temporary interventions in the site, and unearthing and recording the zoo’s oral history.
Although the zoo was founded as an opulent display of colonial ideas (Shepherd in Brennen,2010: online), and researching its past might be read as a nostalgic undertaking, the project is not based in either of these concerns. I am interested in the stories related to this space because they illustrate how layers of meaning bound to the site have shifted over time. The act of archiving, compiling, and presenting these stories was of further interest to me. Due to the fragmented nature of the details about the zoo, the search for them became an extension of the initial act of discovery of the site.