Newest Review: ... that it needed to get some painting crews in to spruce up the place and give it a fresh coating of colour, particularly towards the can... more
Bristol Zoo Gardens
Bristol Zoo Gardens
Member Name: zombieflesh
Bristol Zoo Gardens
Date: 25/05/10, updated on 25/05/10 (140 review reads)
Advantages: animals, exhibits, shows, grounds, accessibility,
Disadvantages: entry price, food
Bristol Zoo Gardens is a charitable organisation dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and habitats. It is located in the Clifton area of Bristol and covers an area of 12 acres. This might seem small compared to attractions of a similar nature, but they have really maximised their space without compromising on providing the best possible habitats for their animals. The zoo is open from 9am-5.30pm and I usually spend 5 hours here on a typical visit.
It is quite a walk to get there from the town centre so I would recommend getting the local 8 or 9 bus which leaves at various points through the city centre. This is particularly helpful if you have travelled by train to get to Bristol, as the pick up point is just outside the main entrance. They run roughly every 10-15 minutes during peak daytime hours so you will never have to wait too long. When you get to the zoo there are bus stops right outside the entrance. There are several offers on that combine travel and entry, which will reduce the cost for some visitors. Check Bristol Zoo's website for current details here http://www.bristolzoo.org.uk/special-offersactivit ies
There are reduced entry fees for children under three (free!), children ages 3-14, family tickets (2 adults and 2 children), 15-18 year olds, students, senior citizens, disabled adults, disabled children, and carers (free!). You can choose to give a voluntary Gift Aid donation of ~10% per person. This donation will be used to help support international breeding programmes at the Zoo and crucial conservation projects in the wild.
A few notes upon your arrival. There is most usually an ice cream van parked up on the lawn space right in front of the entrance gates. For those of you with kids, bad luck! It's pretty nice to treat yourself to a cold ice cream once you've finished your day at the zoo if you can wait that long :) Once you enter the Zoo you head straight through the shop, and into the gardens where there are food vendors and vending machines scattered all over the place. In my opinion it's pretty handy, but I would suggest taking a picnic with you as it can all add up. The Coral Cafe has recently undergone a makeover but it is mildly over-priced and there is not a good range of foods. Basic fast food and deli fare, which is expected from this sort of location. There is a large picnic area in the middle of the zoo, and plenty of benches where you can sit. Make the most of this, especially if the weather's good, and bring along your own food. There is another food option during the summer months, where they have outdoor barbecue food being freshly cooked, but the choice here is limited to burgers or sausages in buns. They smell delicious but are expensive! There are toilets and changing facilities available in various locations around the zoo.
Now on to the important stuff - the animals! I live just outside of Bristol and visit Bristol Zoo often. Zoos are one of my favourite attractions, and I maybe biased being local but Bristol is my favourite of them all. There are loads of different animals and plants for you to see, and most of these are arranged into zones which make it very easy for you to find your way around. I usually take a circular route round the map, going back to my favourite ones when I'm done. The nice thing about Bristol Zoo is that you don't have to do an excessive amount of walking, everything is nicely organised and they have made the most of the space available to them. Now, animals you will be able to see at Bristol Zoo range from the big ones like lions, gorillas, hippos, right down to tiny ones like guinea pigs, bats, meerkats. Exotic ones like okapi, cassowary, red panda, and common ones like tortoises, butterflies, and even rats!
By far, my favourite animals at Bristol Zoo are the Pudus. I had never seen one before visiting here, and they are small deer from Southern America. They are absolutely adorable and the first thing I visit every time I go back now!
The outdoor exhibits are grand, but what I really love are the indoor areas. These have been expertly designed and show off a wonderful array of creatures to their absolute best.
'Twilight World' is a nocturnal zone featuring low lighting and densely camouflaged enclosures. You might have to spend some time spotting the animals in these displays as they like to hide away and can be inactive sometimes, but it is a real treat and is quite wonderful to see these animals and how they behave. The sand cats and mouse deer are my favourites.
The Reptile House is a heated indoor area where you get to see a wide range of frogs, lizards, snakes, and there is a large pool for the Caiman crocodiles. It can get crowded in here but be patient and take the time to walk round the whole lot, it's worth it.
The Aquarium is really good, there are large tanks displaying various simulated environments and the type of fish that would inhabit them. The size of some of these fish is awe-inspiring. There is also the all-important walk-through tunnel that everyone loves at aquariums!
'Bug World'... well I can't really comment fairly on this as I usually skim past as quickly as I can. I dislike bugs a lot. But there is a very cool section where you can watch ants working and there are magnifying pieces of glass in the windows so you can observe easily. There are also a few more fish tanks. At the end, just before the last section and exit there is a bee hive which connects to the window outside with a tube and you can watch the bees coming in and out to make honey. Pretty cool!
'Monkey Jungle' and 'Lemur Walk-through' provide you with a chance to get up close with the animals, and the staff here are exceptionally helpful and knowledgeable.
Seal and Penguin Coasts. These are fabulous, you can view the penguins from above and watch them feed, the continue walking round to the seal enclosure where you can see the seals swimming and basking. You walk round again to what looks like the exit, but this actually takes you underneath the enclosures and there are viewing areas so you can watch the animals underneath the water! This is really an exciting part of the zoo, especially the part where there is a tunnel for you to walk through where the penguins swim over. Love it.
'Zona Brazil' is a tropical area where you can see animals such as capybaras and tapirs. Nice but you have to go through an extremely hot and smelly small indoor area to get through to the outdoor enclosures, which is not a very nice experience.
'Forest of Birds' is an indoor aviary with a number of exotic looking birds. This is a fairly limited space but the building is beautiful, and upon your exit you can walk through the Lorikeet enclosure, and for a small sum you can buy a little pot of nectar with which to feed the birds. They are very confident and will not hesitate to perch upon you to get the food. Watch out for mess!!
'Butterfly Forest' is a walk-through is which is filled with butterflies. This is a spectacular area and you can spend a long time in here just watching and spotting for all the butterflies. It is hot and humid, and my glasses tend to steam up, so to stop that try breathing on the lenses first before you go in.
There are plenty of shows available for you to view and enjoy. The best one in my opinion is at the Terrace Theatre on the main lawn, and is an interactive display aimed at kids that runs hourly from 12pm. There are several animal specific talks as well, including lions, gorillas, butterflies, meerkats, lemurs, prairie dogs, penguins, and seals. Check times upon visiting and make the most of your day.
There is an education centre for children and Bristol Zoo promotes an extensive amount of conservation projects. I haven't checked this out too much, other than when my friend went to get his face painted in the kid's centre. The staff seemed very nice in there, and they were fun while keeping a watchful eye on everything.
One of the main attractions now is 'ZooRopia', a tree-top climbing course that gives you an altogether different look at the zoo. This is available for anyone over the age of 5, including disabled persons. The course is 5 metres high and uses a harness system. You will be fastened in by an instructor, and then you're free to make your way around the course knowing you are safely secured at all times. Please note that this comes at an additional cost, and tickets can be booked at the main Zoo entrance, subject to availability.
All in all I love going to Bristol Zoo, and will remain a frequent customer. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Summary: A fab day out
More reviews in the field of Theme Park / Zoo National
- White Post Farm Centre (Farnsfield)
- Wetlands Animal Park (Nottinghamshire)
- Tayto Park (Kilbrew)
- Marine Aquarium (Lyme Regis)
- Crocodiles of the World (Oxfordshire)
- Chessington World of Adventures
- Thorpe Park (Surrey)
- Blackpool Pleasure Beach
- Oakwood Park (Pembrokeshire, Wales)
- Lightwater Valley (North Yorkshire)