Attraction shuts after 186 years


One of the world’s oldest zoos has closed after 186 years.

Bristol Zoo Gardens, run by the Bristol Zoological Charity, opened in 1836 and is the fifth oldest zoo in the world.

Due to the pandemic, and a new focus on The Wild Project Safari Park, also owned by the charity, the zoo will be shut permanently from today.

The zoo said it had welcomed about 90m visitors since it first opened and its conservation programmes have helped save many species from extinction.

The attraction, pictured in 1907, said it had welcomed 90m visitors since opening

When it first opened, the zoo featured animals that had been sourced by affluent families and which were brought to the UK on ships by sailors.

While the site used to include wildlife such as elephants, tigers and polar bears these were eventually deemed unsuitable to be housed there as many were not endangered and had, therefore, been needlessly removed from their habitats.

Three white tiger born in 1969

Bristol Zoo was famous for its white tigers in the 1970s

Bristol Zoo has also helped young people gain experience and knowledge on animal welfare. The charity has links to both Bristol University and the University of the West of England.

The organisation offered six degree courses and had 380 students studying alongside the zoo.

The zoo said even though it is closing, the students would continue to receive their education with the team.

Blue Peter July 1958

Blue Peter hosted a show at Bristol Zoo in 1958

The zoo’s sister site, The Wild Place Project, was acquired in 1967 but did not open until 2013.

The conservation park in South Gloucestershire provides education for families on helping achieve a climate-conscious future.

Adam with Ralph Guise

Bristol Zoo homed the first chimpanzee ever to be born in captivity in Europe

It also features much larger grounds, with space for animals to roam more freely.

By closing the Clifton site, the team hope to prioritise and expand The Wild Place and continue the work with endangered species.

Bristol Zoo Lorry in the late 40s

The animals were transferred out of the zoo for their safety during wartime

Bristol Zoo was the first in the UK to successfully breed the increasingly rare Black Rhino.

Two Black Rhinos will be living at the new site in 2024.

Wild Place Project

The zoo said it had taken the decision to sell the Clifton site and move to the much larger Wild Place north of Bristol to safeguard its future

The zoo’s outreach and international support work will continue after the site closes.

Male lion

The zoo is home to two Asiatic lions which it said were the ‘most endangered large cat species in the world’

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