One of the city’s top outdoor activities simply has to be a visit to Bristol Zoo. Spread over 12 acres of delightful gardens in Clifton, it might not be the biggest zoo in the world but it is one of the oldest. In fact, in terms of provincial zoos, it’s the oldest on the planet, having first opened its doors in 1836.
In total, you can see more than 400 different wildlife species at Bristol Zoo. The mammal population alone reaches over 300, consisting of more than 50 species including pygmy hippos, red pandas and Asian lions. All in all, there are 11 exhibits for you to explore on your visit to Bristol Zoo. Gorilla Island is one of the most popular and is home to the biggest animals in the zoo – the gorillas. It’s opposite the Monkey Jungle, where there’s always a bit of monkey business and mischief going on – these two areas are worth the price of a ticket all on their own.
Then again, the Top Terrace is another must-see section. It’s one of the oldest parts of the zoo and houses the Asian lions, red pandas, flamingos and fruit bats. The Seal and Penguin Coasts let you watch fur seals and African penguins both above and below the water. The Twilight World is a showcase of nocturnal animals, such as sand cats, mongeese and mouse deer. Head to the Reptile House if you want to see tortoises, crocodiles, snakes, terrapins and tortoises. Or, there’s the aquarium for its 70 species of fish, including piranha and seahorses.
Ever since it opened in the 19th century, Bristol Zoo’s onus has always been on the conservation of nature. Of course, entertaining visitors is part and parcel of running a zoo, but the animals have always come first. That’s why the zookeepers don’t interact with the gorillas; they need to socialise among themselves, otherwise they’d risk becoming over accustomed to people.
Another part of Bristol Zoo’s work as a conservation and education charity is in its role as a breeding zoo. It has been able to boast some impressive feats over the years. There was the first black rhino born in Britain in 1958; in 1953, the first squirrel monkey to be born in captivity, and in 1934, the first chimpanzee born in Europe.
Bristol Zoo is definitely worth a visit. It’s an incredible place, and it’s only a couple of miles away from the city centre. Plus, if you book your tickets online, you could save nearly a third off the standard gate prices, so it can be an affordable day out too.