Bristol Zoo

Bristol Zoo

Infobox zoo
zoo_name=Bristol Zoological Gardens
logo=Bristol Zoo logo.pnglogo_width=120px

image_caption=Main entrance
location=Bristol, England
area=12 acres (5 ha)
num_animals=7155 (2007) [ [ Bristol Zoo Annual Report 2007] ]
num_species=419 (2007)
members=The Bristol, Clifton and West of England Zoological Society
exhibits=Zona Brazil, Seal and Penguin Coasts, Gorilla Island

Bristol Zoo is a zoo in the city of Bristol in South West England. The zoo's stated mission is "Bristol Zoo Gardens maintains and defends biodiversity through breeding endangered species, conserving threatened species and habitats and promoting a wider understanding of the natural world".


Opened in 1836 by the Bristol, Clifton and West of England Zoological Society, Bristol Zoo is the world's oldest provincial zoo. It is a Victorian walled zoo located between Clifton Down and Clifton College, near Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge; it covers a small area by modern standards, but with a considerable number of species. In the 1960s the zoo came to national prominence by appearing in the UK television series, "Animal Magic", hosted by the comic animal 'communicator', Johnny Morris.

The zoo's official name is Bristol Zoological Gardens ('Bristol Zoo Gardens' for commercial purposes). This is not in recognition of the flower displays but recognises the first use of that title at the Regent's Park Zoological Gardens. Bristol, like its earlier London counterpart, includes several original buildings which have been praised for their architectural quirks, despite being unsuitable for the care of animals; the (former) Giraffe House [cite web | title= Bristol Zoological Gardens, Giraffe House | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-12-18] joins the main entrance lodge [cite web | title=Bristol Zoological Gardens entrance | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-12-18] and the south gates on Guthrie Road [cite web | title=South entrance gates and screen walls to Bristol Zoological Gardens | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-12-18] as a Grade II listed building. The old Monkey Temple, resembling a southern-Asian temple, is now home to an exhibit called "Smarty plants", an interactive exhibit which shows how plants use and manipulate animals to survive.

The zoo also has breeding firsts, including the first black rhino born in Britain in 1958, the first squirrel monkey born in captivity in 1953 and the first chimpanzee born in Europe in 1934.

Animal overview

Many of Bristol Zoo's larger animals have in the last ten years been moved to other collections. For example, there is no longer an elephant, giraffe, tiger, camel, bear or zebra. This was for the best welfare of the animals, as with many city zoos there is limited space and the zoo authorities no longer felt they could accommodate larger animals but this has not stopped the zoo from expanding and attracting visitors.

The zoo has 300 mammals in its collection, representing 50 species (from a total of over 4,300 mammal species on earth); these include a pair of asiatic lions, okapi, pygmy hippo, red panda, capybara and various primates.

The zoos Twilight Zone was the first of its kind when it opened, there are many other indoor exhibits including an insect and reptile house and aquarium meanwhile outside there are several aviaries and a seal and penguin enclosure. Ducks swim on the lakes, while the lakes islands are home to gorillas, tamarins, marmosets, gibbons and pelicans.

eal and Penguin Coasts

The "Seal and Penguin Coasts", is a major attraction at the zoo, opened in 1999,it allows South American Fur Seals, African Penguins and Gentoo Penguins to be watched both above and below the water. The two pools contain 145,000 gallons (660,000 litres) of salt water, with waves (made by a wave machine), waterfalls, rocks and pebble beaches to simulate their natural habitat. The exhibit has a large net over the top to allow Inca Terns and Common Eider Ducks to be kept in the same enclosure.

Gorilla Island

"Gorilla Island" is home to a family of western lowland gorillas, which are the largest animals kept at Bristol. As well as an indoor house which is also home to Okapi, they have an large island which they share with the De Brazzas monkeys from Monkey Jungle. The Gorilla's are herbivores, and are not aggressive. However the keepers do not enter their island home because it is the Zoo's policy to keep the animals' captive environment as similar as possible to that of their natural African forest habitat.

The Terrace

The Terrace is one of the oldest parts of the zoo. It is home to a pair of lions, keas, red pandas, fruit bats and flamingos as well as Twilight World which was the first such exhibit to offer the daytime visitor the chance to view the twilight behaviour of nocturnal animals. By exchanging night and day, the animals (which are awake during their 'night') can be observed during daylight hours. The lights allow a natural transition from night to day and vice versa. Twilight world is split into four zones: the Desert (sand cats, mongooses, rattlesnakes, kangaroo rats and geckos), the Rainforest (slow loris, mouse deer, sloths, owl monkeys, aye-aye, possums and mouse lemurs), the Cave (scorpions, blind cave fish and naked mole rats) and the House (rats and mice).

Reptile House

The Reptile House houses a collection of reptiles and amphibians. The house itself is heated and gives a sense of the heat of the rainforest. There are three sections to the house: Desert (gila monsters, geckos and tortoises), Rainforest (dwarf crocodiles, terrapins and snakes) and the Rearing Room where visitors can view the raising of reptiles and amphibian and also learn about the zoo's conservation work.

Outside, but still considered part of the reptile house, is a giant tortoise and green iguana enclosure where the animals have access to a heated indoor house and an outdoor enclosure.


The Aquarium has around 70 species of fish. The aquarium has three sections: The Amazon River (catfish, pacu and piranha), Africa (chiclids) and the Coral reef (seahorses, corals and fish). On the outside of the building there is a water sculpture.

Bug World

"Bug World", the zoo's collection of invertebrates (animals without a backbone), includes invertebrates such as Lesser Antilles hercules beetle, mole cricket and Poor Knights' giant weta. Other displays include tarantulas, black widow spiders, giant millipedes, honey bees, leaf-cutting ants and flamboyant flower beetles.

Wallace Aviary

Most of the species in the walk-through "Wallace Aviary" are from the Philippines where they are threatened with extinction through loss of habitat, hunting and killing for food. Birds include Victoria crowned pigeon, Bleeding-heart dove, Masked plover and Collared kingfisher. The zoo supports conservation of rare birds on Cebu island in the Philippines.

Zona Brazil

"Zona Brazil" is home to some of the Zoos largest animals. The tropical house has Amazon tree boas and tarantulas. The two monkey enclosures have Geoffrey's marmosets, Black lion tamarins and Titi monkeys

Outside, there are aviaries for Red-tailed Amazon parrots, an enclosure for Golden lion tamarins and three linked paddocks for Tapir and Capybara.

Monkey Jungle and Monkey Islands

In 2006 the zoo opened a new exhibit, "Monkey Jungle", which features four new exhibits replacing the old monkey house. An enclosure is home to Red Ruffed Lemurs and Ring-tailed Lemurs where visitors can walk in with the lemurs without any barriers or bars. The other enclosures are home to Lion-tailed Macaques, Black Howlers and De Brazza's Monkeys which also have access to Gorilla Island.

The islands opposite Gorilla Island house a family of Squirrel monkeys, a female Agile Gibbon awaiting a male to join from either Monkey World or Twycross Zoo and also Golden-headed lion tamarins.

Butterfly House

A Butterfly and Moth house opened at Bristol Zoo in June 2008. The undercover walk-through is housed in a sustainably-heated, climate-controlled polytunnel. [] . Species on show include the blue morpho, the glasswing, the leopard lacewing and the giant atlas moth.

The exhibit is linked to Butterfly projects run by the zoo in Kenya and Costa Rica. The zoo also supports work to protect the rare silky wave moth in Avon Gorge.

Wendy the elephant

Wendy the Asian Elephant had to be euthanised, because of arthritis, in 2003 at the age of 42. The zoo authorities say they will never again house large animals, including elephants, at their Bristol site. Wendy's enclosure has since been redeveloped and the area is now occupied by two okapi.


Bristol Zoo supports wildlife conservation, education and breeding programmes world-wide. For example, Bristol works with other zoos around the world to breed lemurs in captivity. Native to Madagascar, the lemurs are critically endangered because their forest habitat is being destroyed. Closer to home, the zoo has helped to reintroduce the water vole to parts of Southern England.

National Wildlife Conservation Park

A number of mammals are kept on a site to the north of Bristol. There are plans to relocate many more species to the Hollywood Tower estate near Cribbs Causeway, as part of a second zoo.

The new site at Cribbs Causeway will be called the National Wildlife Conservation Park, and will include larger animals than the existing Bristol Zoo. The zoo will be split into biomes, representing species found only in specific habitats. Some of the biomes to be included are Congo Basin Tropical Forest, Central American Swamp, African Savannah, Sumatra Tropical Forest, Nepal Riverine Forest, Coral Reef, British Ancient Woodland and British Wetlands. The species list for each ecosystem has not yet been finalised, but is likely to include Manatees, Crocodiles, Bonobos, Okapi, Bongo, Sumatran tiger, Orang-utan, Giraffe, Zebra, Warthog, Kudu, African hunting dog, Rhino, Brown bear and Wolf.

Plans and information on the new site can be found inside Bug World.



External links

* [ Official site]
* [ Panoramic images from the BBC]

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