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Bristol Zoo Gardens
Member Name: karenuk
Bristol Zoo Gardens
Date: 01/02/01, updated on 29/05/01 (289 review reads)
Advantages: fun, educational, lots to do for all ages, great animals, good care taken of the animals, money spent on improving animals' surroundings, conservation projects ongoing
Disadvantages: can turn out to be a very expensive day
I went to the zoo last Friday (May 25th) with my kids' school. It was interesting going as part of a school trip, as we had an educational talk about the rainforest too, which was very good.
The Foot and Mouth crisis has changed a few things - the elephant can be seen from a distance, but not close up; the giraffes weren't around either; the farm animals have ominously disappeared; and we had to walk across disinfected mats to enter the zoo.
Still well worth a visit though :-)
Bats, Rats and Meerkats are my favourite animals and all these and more can be found at Bristol Zoo. We usually go there about twice a year, but would go more often if it was cheaper.
My in-laws have an Annual Membership which makes a day out there much more affordable, but without this, it usually costs us around £40 or more!
Annual Memberships cost between £11.50 (for one child aged between 3 and 13) to £49 (for two adults). If you can afford the initial outlay, it is easy to get your money's worth from a few day trips to the Zoo and they hold special events too, like the Christmas carol singing concert.
The zoo has everything you would expect from a zoo, but with plenty more besides. I feel it is the best zoo I have been to, which is a big compliment as I love animals and have been to many more.
The animals seem well cared for, happy and have very good areas to live in and play in. Whenever the zoo spends money, it seems to be on improving the animals' surroundings.
One of the best developments they have done in recent years is the excellent Seal and Penguin Coasts. It was opened in July 1999 and cost two million pounds.
This is a wonderful feature where you walk around the water on a bridge and various walkways, then you go underground and walk past the side of the water, with big glass windows giving you a privileged view
of the seals and penguins inside.
But then, as if that wasn't enough, you get to walk underneath the water in a tunnel. It is quite eerie and disorientating but also awe-inspiring. You can look upwards and see these beautiful creatures swimming round. If you are lucky, you will get a seal or penguin come to the glass and peer at you, which makes you wonder who is watching who!
There is a strong emphasis on education too, so the day is punctuated by regular talks on various animals - elephant, bats, red pandas, lions, gorillas, penguins, otters and seals - and chances to see the penguins and gorillas being fed.
One of my favourite parts of a trip to the zoo are the Animal Encounters, which are small groups who hear a talk about some of the animals which people often have phobias about - snakes, rats, spiders, etc.
These are very informative and you can ask questions and touch the animals too. Being a recovering arachnophobic, I am hoping to one day build up the confidence to touch a tarantula (I picked up a money spider the other day !). So far though, I have always ended up at the snake talk - and I have no fear of snakes - or the Giant Hissing Cockroaches, ugh!
Children can follow a course around the zoo called Zoolympics. They can collect a little booklet and complete it as they go round. This is fun, but also educational, as they get timed running, see how far they can jump, see how heavy they are and so on, then compare it to the best in the animal world. I'm sure everyone will learn something through this.
Children are also entertained by a large, well-equipped playground area, and indoor activities such as face painting and badge making - with an animal theme, of course.
It is so difficult not to list everything the zoo has to offer, as there is so much - Wendy the elephant (a bit of a local legend), Gorilla Island, Bug World (a place to avoid for the squeamish, but boys seem to love it!),
Reptile World and so on.
One place I love is Twilight World, which is rather dark, so hold on to your little ones. This houses the rodents and nocturnal species and contains some of my favourite animals, including the beautiful sand cats and the gorgeous teddy-bear faced bats.
Another of my favourites to see are the red pandas - more teddy bears, but warnings remind you they do actually bite. Look out for the cute little prairie dogs too, which are very active little rodents!
There are good facilities all over the zoo for ice-creams, hot and cold drinks and souvenir shops. There is a big restaurant too, with a large area indoors and another area outside, but undercover.
It is a great day out, but be warned, it can turn out to be very expensive. If you are on a limited budget, take a packed lunch or picnic and your own drinks.
Check out the official website