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A fantastic day out for all the family!
Bristol Zoo Gardens
Member Name: lyndsey1989
Bristol Zoo Gardens
Advantages: Number of species, Price
Disadvantages: Some enclosures appear to be a little small
Waking up yesterday morning and realising there was actually sunshine in the sky we decided a trip to the zoo was in order! I'm a big fan of zoo's and the kids enjoy them a lot. Having visited all the other zoos in a two hour radius of our home we opted for Bristol Zoo.
Bristol Zoo Gardens is set in 12 acres of land and is a registered charity. It is situated just outside of Bristol, in Clifton and is easily reachable by both bus and car. It is worth noting that using a First Bus to get to the zoo means you can get discounted entry.
Upon arrival we saw that there were a number of car parks to choose from. Even though the sign said the car park was full for the closest one to the zoo entry we decided to give it a go anyway as from the roadside we could see there were infact spaces available. On entrance to the car park you are greeted by an attendant who collects your £2 parking fee and directs you to a space. I found him to be very patient, friendly and helpful. The £2 fee is not bad value when comparing it to a number of other places who charge you in excess of £5.
When parked we wandered down to the zoo entrance which was about a 3 minute walk away. Along the way there are disabled parking spaces which are closer to the park for those who need it. We then joined a rather long line to buy tickets, if your tickets are pre bought or you are a member then you join a different line which was non existant. Whilst in the line we were greeted by a member of staff who explained that because they are a charity if you filled in a form for gift aid they could receive an extra 28p per pound
After purchasing our tickets we were given a park map and proceeded on outside. We were first greeted by the primate enclosure. This included orangutans amongst other species. The monkeys were up and playful and a couple were keen to pose for pictures. There were a number of viewing points so if they were hid away you could probably still spot them easily. Next to these were the flamingos.
We then continued up the easy to navigate track and found the lions. The first time we came here we could only spot the male and he was asleep. However, when we returned later on in the afternoon it was feeding time so both the male and female were cornered off into a section of their pen. This was truly amazing as the male kept pacing up and down and was very close to us. It was a fantastic experience for the kids as I dont think they have ever been that close to a lion before and had such a fantastic view.
After the lions we progressed onto Twilight World which housed all of the nocturnal animals. This included a mongoose, various rats and a sand cat. The end of this house was particularly interesting as it was made to look like an everyday house and they had various rodents living in cupboards and microwaves! Next to this were the fruit bats who were easy to see, there were a number of these so the kids were entertained for a short while.
Next were the giant tortoise. We could spot 3 in the house and it was obvious that one was a baby due to it being a lot smaller than the other two. These were good to see due to their sheer size as up until my holiday in Italy 2 weeks ago, I'd never seen one of these before! Next to the tortoise was the Reptile House. Although not being a big fan of reptiles this was relatively interesting and housed a number of species including frogs, turtles, geckos, chameleons and lizards. There was also a nursery section containing baby animals and eggs. However, the best part of the reptiles were the crocodiles. There were 2 in the enclosure and they stayed very still and when they did move they only moved in slow motion! They were fantastic to see and to be so close to, the enclosure had no roof so you felt as though you were very close to them!
Next to this, there was a small aquarium which housed a number of different fish including piranhas and clownfish (nemos!). This was of a good size and there were a number of different things to see. Opposite this cluster of houses is a large lawn area which a number of people were sitting on to have a picnic. Next to this is Bug World although somehow we managed to miss this!
You then enter another primate area which is very large and houses a number of different species. The monkeys are all easy to see and are a wonderful variation of colours and sizes. There is also an armadillo in the 'Monkey Jungle' which was great fun to watch. There are a number of ring tailed lemurs who were all easy to see and the kids enjoyed watching these for a short time.
You then come to the gorilla and okapi house. Both were easy to see. The okapi was stood at the back of its enclosure and eventually came forward to give everyone a closer look. The gorilla was napping when we arrived but he was right up close to the glass which meant you could see him well.
After this you came to the seals and penguins which were highly enjoyable. To begin with you walk round at ground level and we saw a number of penguins led on the rocks in the sunshine. The seals were more interesting and one was sunbathing on a rock and he was huge. There were many more in the water and one was just rolling over and over which was humorous. They were not shy and were very close. You then have the opportunity to walk underwater and see the penguins and seals. We chose to do this and in the house there are a few other underwater species to see. The seals come first and they were great to watch and you could recognise ones that you had seen earlier. The penguins you couldnt really see as the water was misty and there was algae stuck to the tunnel.
You then have the opportunity to see 2 pygmy hippos. Although to begin with they were both underwater, in turn they stuck their heads out and eventually got out of the water. These were very interesting and again you had a fantastic view of them as they were so close. You can then walk around to see the otters, we spotted 2 in the enclosure but unfortunately they spent the majority of their time under the water.
There are then a number of bird enclosures, we walked very quickly around these as the kids weren't particularly interested. There was however a very small member of the deer family here which was very interesting to watch.
Next you are greeted by more primates including lemurs and gibbons. These were all up and ready to play so provided light entertainment for a while. The meerkats are also located here which are always fun to watch.
We then progressed onto the butterfly walk through which housed a huge number of butterflies. You are offered a sheet of species when you go through in order to see how many you can spot. One of the butterflies kept landing on one of the children-much to her delight and there were a number of brightly coloured and different looking species that we had never seen before. One kind even had see through wings! The prarie dogs are also located here which are similar to meerkats and are worth taking a look due to a litter of puppies!
Finally we went through the Lorikeets, which are fantastic looking birds. You get the opportunity to feed them for a small extra charge (70p for a pot or £1 for two). My partner was the only one brave enough and soon enough he was covered in the brightly coloured birds! There are also a number of other birds to look at.
Upon leaving, the gift shop was a good size and not overly priced. For example you can get small hanging monkeys for £6, childrens cups for £3, pencils for 55p...
There are a number of toilets and places to eat situated around the park. There is a snack bar, pizza place and a bbq from what we spotted. There are also a number of vending machines stocking ice cream, drinks and sweets. Toilets are well signposted and are also visable on the map you are given upon entrance.
Prices are as follows. However, I would recommend picking up a leaflet before your visit as ours contained a free child voucher (with a full paying adult). You can pay with or without a voluntary 10% contribution to the park, these prices are with the contribution.
Concession (15-18 yrs, student, senior citizen, disabled): £11.00
Family of 4: £36.50
Under 3's are free
The park is open daily from 9 until 5.30 (peak season) or 5 (off peak)
I would recommend visiting Bristol Zoo as it proved to be a fab day out for all the family. A great time was had by all and I believe it to be fantastic value for money when compared to similar attractions. There are a number of things to do here and you can easily occupy yourself for a whole day.
For more information please visit http://www.bristolzoo.org.uk/
Summary: Great day out
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