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Gorilla and Okapi house at Bristol 19/12/09

Formerly house giraffes and elephants.

Gorilla and Okapi house at Bristol 19/12/09
Maguari, 20 Dec 2009
    • Maguari
      Formerly house giraffes and elephants.
    • DavidBrown
      Bristol seems like it may be a model for how to transform an older zoo with outdated exhibits into a 21st century zoo. In looking at the pictures people have posted from the 1980s it is clear that this zoo used to have megafauna like elephants, giraffes, and bears crammed into smallish exhibits. Now it looks like it has a really interesting combination of biodiversity based exhibits (aquarium, insects, nocturnal house) and superstar species exhibits (lions, gorillas, seals and penguins). I would like to visit this zoo someday.

      Do you think that Bristol zoo goers miss elephants and giraffes or are they happy with their zoo? I guess there is a hope (or at least there was hope) that a new zoo with these species would be built nearby at some time.
    • Maguari
      It's certainly the best modernised-but-still-historic zoo in the UK, I'd say. The very best example I've seen of this type of thing is at Vienna, but they have that bit more space that has allowed them to keep most of the big ABCs.

      The Nocturnal House and invert exhibit are probably the best of their type in the UK, the aquarium (a converted bear pit of all things) is superb, the reptile and monkey houses solid and the fur seal/penguin exhibits fantastic (although certainly on the penguin side surpassed by their spiritual successor at Living Coasts in Devon).

      There are perhaps a few more play areas than strictly necessary but they seem to have ceased expanding for the moment!

      The zoo recently passed its 175th anniversary with widespread celebrations - there was a TV documentary and a superb history book among other things. It's a zoo very much at peace with its history.

      It's difficult to say. I never hear too many complaints of this type on the way round but I'm sure they do exist.

      The biggest cloud on the horizon is the rise of the staunchly anti-evolution Noah's Ark Zoo Farm just outside Bristol, which frankly makes a mockery of scientific education and when I visited (some years ago) was a decidedly ramshackle place, but which does have giraffes, rhinos, more big cats and plans for elephants - it has been styling itself as 'where the BIG zoo animals are' in what seems to be a deliberate aim to outcompete the scientifically and conservationally orientated Bristol Zoo Gardens. I really hope it never becomes Bristol's main animal attraction. The thought of a major zoo teaching intelligent design/creationism is terrifying.

      Mind you, the owners are so Christian that it doesn't open on Sundays, so Bristol have 1/7th of the year to themselves! :D
    • Shirokuma
      I think that on the whole, Bristol's transition has been successful and it's a lovely little zoo - which doesn't actually feel that small, especially on a first visit if you take your time with everything. You can easily spend all day there, particularly if you attend some of the feedings, keeper talks and educational displays.

      One concern which some have raised, and I can see their point, is that the playgrounds and children's facilities can feel a bit too dominant. I think this might be to do with the fact that the size of the zoo means that everything is very close and there isn't the luxury of spreading things out.

      They also called their guidebook 'family guide' or something similar which I find alienating so I hope it doesn't become a glorified adventure playground.

      One last point, there has always been a strong emphasis on the gardens and this contributes to that feeling of the zoo being bigger than it is. There are trees, hedges, borders and lush planting that make it feel larger and that is a good example for other small urban zoos in my view.
    • Bele
      I would be interested the know the percentage of the grounds that are taken up by animal enclosures . With all of the lawns and gardens , eating and play areas , I suspect it is well below 50% .
    • IanRRobinson
      Agreed entirely. I really fear that if Bristol don't act soon with Hollywood Towers Noah's Ark will have taken the market away. Don't forget that there's Longleat down the road as well, which seems to be expanding its animal collection.

      It is amazing to think that as a 22 year old I visited Bristol when it had Asian Elephants, three species each of big cat and great ape, Polar and Sun Bears, Wolves, giraffes and Damara Zebras. Black Rhino had only left in 1980.

      Bristol does look a lot better now, but as other posters have commented, the problem is that the play area is right in the heart of the Zoo and it does rather dominate everything else. If they had a covered area in one of the corners (perhaps where the birds of prey used to be) maybe it would seem less intrusive.
    • Shirokuma
      Here are two excellent bird's eye views of the zoo from flickr

      [ame="[email protected]/6076668697/"]Clifton Zoo | Flickr - Photo Sharing![/ame]

      [ame="[email protected]/6077208820/"]Clifton Zoo | Flickr - Photo Sharing![/ame]
    • Pertinax
      I can also remember; Lions, White and normal Tigers, Jaguars, Black and Spotted Leopards,Puma, Brown Bears, Polar Bears, Sun, Sloth and Himalayan Bears, Wolves, Giraffes, Grevy Zebras, Ostrich, Camels, Llama, Beisa oryx, reedbuck, bushpig, Axis Deer, Kangaroos, many old World Monkey species and that's just among the larger mammals!

      Traditionally at Bristol the lawns and gardens have always been sacrosanct and the animal exhibits seem always to have taken 2nd place, at least sizewise.

      I believe the Okapi paddock, as shown here, is intended to house Bongo in the future(according to the masterplan) though where the Okapi will go isn't mentioned.
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    Bristol Zoo
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    20 Dec 2009
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