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Bristol Zoo Guide

Bristol Zoo is situated in Bristol in the South-West of England and is the world’s oldest provincial zoo, opened in 1836. A Victorian walled zoo located near to the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge. The zoo is small, by today’s standard but contains a large number of different species. There are several buildings within the Zoological Gardens which have been joined together and are listed as a Grade II listed Building. 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. In recent years Bristol Zoo has rationalised its animal collection to enable the provision of better facilities for its animal collection while maintaining a range of species on view to visitors. As a result, among species now on view at Bristol which are rare or absent in UK zoos are aye aye (of which they have bred two so far, with a juvenile on show), Livingstone’s Fruit Bat, and a successful breeding group of Western Lowland Gorillas. In addition there are okapi, which Bristol was one of the first zoos in the world to breed, Asiatic lion, pygmy hippo, and red panda, among the 300 mammals in its collection, representing 50 species (from a total of over 4,300 mammal species on earth). Bristol Zoo supports wildlife conservation, education and breeding programmes worldwide.

The zoo’s 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

Attractions within the Zoo include:-

The Seal and Penguin Coasts, opened in 1999,it allows South American Fur Seals and African Penguins to be watched both above and below the water.

Explorers’ Creek opened in May 2009 and features three areas – a water play area, a tropical bird house and a walk-through Lorikeet feeding area.

Gorilla Island is home to a family of western lowland gorillas, which are the largest animals kept at Bristol Zoo. As well as an indoor house which is also home to okapi, they have a large island which they share with the De Brazza’s monkeys from Monkey Jungle.

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. 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).

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. Outside, but still considered part of the reptile house, is a giant tortoise and Rhinoceros iguana 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, 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.

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.

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.

A Butterfly and Moth house opened at Bristol Zoo in June 2008.

ZooRopia is an aerial ropes course within the zoo grounds. It opened June 2009 The course gives visitors the chance to swing alongside some of the Zoo’s most popular inhabitants – gibbons, gorillas and lemurs. It is the first ropes course in Europe that is accessible to children as young as five and set within a zoo.

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.

Opening hours

The Zoo is open every day from 9am-5.30pm in peak season , and close at 5pm during off peak . The Zoo is closed on Christmas Day. Last entry to the Zoo is an hour before closing time and animal houses close half an hour before closing time.

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