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Opinions of Bristol Zoo?

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by CDavies98, 24 Aug 2018.

  1. CDavies98

    CDavies98 Well-Known Member

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    Bristol Zoo is my local zoo as I moved down there in the last two years - so I have no reference for what the zoo used to be like. I personally love the zoo and think it is fantastic, but I was wondering what people think of the collection they currently have, and the exhibits for them, compared to what used to be there; and also, what do you think could be added to their collection, or improved in the existing collection?
     
  2. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

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    It lacks the biodiversity it used to have. Seal and Penguin Coasts, which is good, is built on the site of the old Whipsnade Paddock, which held Red Kangaroo, Axis Deer, Demoiselle Crane, White Stork and Peafowl, none of which are now represented in the collection.
     
  3. pipaluk

    pipaluk Well-Known Member

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    Didn't the Polar bear 'exhibit 'go too ?
     
  4. ajmcwhipsnade

    ajmcwhipsnade Well-Known Member

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    I hope this isn't a stupid question, but why was it called the Whipsnade paddock?
     
  5. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

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    Yes it did. There had been a whole range of dear enclosures, which were way outdated, but just possibly might have been revamped into one acceptable habitat.
     
  6. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

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    Because it was relatively large, and contained a mixture of animals, possibly reminding the viewer of Whilsnade, which for many years was the byword for big mixed enclosures. I used to know a house called 'Whipsnade', purely because they had a front garden full of tortoises.
     
  7. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    From the 1950-60's era that paddock was one of the iconic exhibits at Bristol. Strange to remember at that time the zoo housed virtually all the ABC animals they no longer have.
     
  8. Shorts

    Shorts Well-Known Member

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    I think there's a small argument for Bristol being the best, well-balanced, small zoo in the UK. It really does give the visitor a taste of the variety of life. A fair smattering of ABC and other mammals, nice bird collection, strong herp collection (one of the best in the UK), great invert collection (ditto), a few nice fish species and possibly the best nocturnal area in the country. Also you've got that iconic long terrace largely unchanged since the 1830's (and to witness that always gives me a little buzz).

    That it manages all that in 12 acres, given it "wastes" a lot of space on lawns, is not far short of a miracle.

    Yes, it used to have an insanely extensive mammal collection in the 1960's and 1970's but I believe the changes are overwhelmingly for the better. The mind boggles how they fitted them all in ("not very well" probably being the answer) when you see a list of what they held.

    Improvements? I'd like them to do something to clear out and better utilise the area between the Mara's and Smarty Plants (and maybe, just, maybe chew up a bit of the lawned areas. I'd also like to see them extend into, and perhaps specialise in, more Australian species -it seems a trend with momentum at the moment, they've already got a few species to start with and, generally, you don't need acres of space for housing (basically I think they'd do it well).
     
  9. Brum

    Brum Well-Known Member

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    Even well in to the 1980's they still had elephants, giraffes, polar bears, 3 great apes, lions, leopards and tigers. This would have been around 1986 according to a guide I have. My first visit was probably 1990 and they still had multiple cat species, gorillas and orangs, hoofstock including okapi, camels, giraffes & zebras and Wendy the elephant. The leopard and lion cages and the (extremely narrow) okapi yard really stick out in my (5 year old) mind as being atrocious, so if I can recall them now then they must have been pretty bad.

    I think the only original enclosure from my first visit is the pygmy hippo house, and that seems a lot more natural now. Oh yeah, the bird house, reptiles and aquarium were all where they still currently are but I don't recall the interiors of the first two.

    Overall Bristol is possibly the best zoo it can be on the site it has, just maybe move some enclosures on to the lawns to add a bit more variety. :)
     
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  10. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I agree with you; Bristol Zoo is definitely amongst my very favourite UK zoos although I do miss some of the animals that were previously kept.

    As others have mentioned, the collection is much reduced when compared to days gone by. I especially recall that, during the 1980s, the Nocturnal House displayed some choice species such as Philippine tarsier and pacarana.

    Given the relatively small size of the site, I think that removing most of the large mammals was sensible but, personally, I miss the okapi enormously (although Bristol, of course, still keep okapi at Wild Place).

    Even after all these years, whenever I see the pygmy hippo accommodation, I always wonder how black rhinos were kept (and achieved first successful UK breeding) in such a small building.

    My favourite animal at Bristol was "Charlie" the Siberut macaque; the zoo didn't know exactly what species this monkey was and it was only identified after its death. I think that the Bristol animal is one of only two specimens known, the other being a monkey that lived at London Zoo in the 1930s.

    Just a few other miscellaneous animals that I especially remember from past visits to Bristol, when the collection was much larger:

    polar bear, sun bear, pure bred Bengal tiger, giraffe, plains zebra, African elephant ("Christina"), Asiatic elephant ("Wendy"), Arabian gazelle, orang-utan, chimpanzee, Allen's swamp monkey....
     
    Last edited: 25 Aug 2018
  11. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    To add a few more from my earliest visits;

    Asiatic Elephant 'Rosie,' Wolf, Sloth Bear, Himalayan Bear, Brown Bear, Jaguar, Beisa Oryx(single), Bison(single) Reedbuck(single) Black rhino, Axis Deer, Red Kangaroo, Grevys Zebra, Ostrich, Llama, Drill, Mandrill, Guinea and Yellow Baboon, Moor Macaque, Rhesus Macaque colony( and single Albino) Hyacinth and Military Macaws, Mongoose, Black and Ring-tailed Lemur. Bar-headed, Snow and Magellan Geese on the lake.
     
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  12. CDavies98

    CDavies98 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, as a whole it seems that the removal of most of the species was for the best, as the site is just not suitable for the types of megafauna it was home to back in the day. I too really miss the okapi, and haven't had the chance to visit them up at Wild Place yet. I would love to see them return to Bristol but don't see how it would be feasible without sacrificing another large species.

    While it does create a lovely atmosphere and a very nice aesthetic, the sheer amount of space dedicated to lawns is a little frustrating, so I too agree that the lawned areas could be broken up a bit! And a new Australian themed area would be great and could incorporate the Quolls which the zoo already has. And the Mara-Smarty Plants area is the one thing that really annoys me, as it just seems to be criminally wasted, especially when there could be a potential for an efficient medium-sized exhibit there.

    I too would love a new South American exhibit for the Zona Brazil species - or at the least a revamp of the current enclosure, as I just don't like the state that area of the zoo is currently in - it looks very reminiscent of the eras we're discussing - where exhibits were all functional concrete with no frills attached.

    Hopefully now a new CEO has been drafted in, some exciting projects could make some headway.
     
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  13. redstarsmith

    redstarsmith Well-Known Member

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    It has been 6 years on from my visit so I’m unsure how Bristol has changed. I felt that it had excellent houses such as the Nocturnal and reptile house. Important to escape the heat and rain on certain days. The compact size of the Zoo was appreciated. It does a lot in a small area. The gardens were good.

    I felt that there were too many play areas for
    The children. I have one myself (child and play area) and have always felt that zoos do not need so many play areas. The animals of the Zoo should be more than enough to keep a child captivated for the visit. If it doesn’t the Zoo needs to be improved or take themto a park.

    I would love to have a Zoo like Bristol on my doorstep. Apart from London is it the only inner city Zoo (narrow Definition of Zoo that contains abc megafauna) left in the U.K.?
     
  14. cliffxdavis

    cliffxdavis Well-Known Member

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    I remember badgering my parents to drive us to Bristol zoo for years because I wanted to see the White Tigers. They used to be a really big deal, I remember it was a very hot day and I thought it was a big zoo so I must of been young. I have visited several times since then and think overall it is better now but what amazed me last year was how quickly you can walk around the outside of the zoo yet the inside seems much bigger than it ought to be.
     
  15. littleRedPanda

    littleRedPanda Well-Known Member

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    I've been here a couple of times, courtesy of other memberships. I really do no not like it. Whenever I get into an "argument" with anti-zoo folk, I hope they do not mention the lions here ... I agree with them that their enclosure is an outdated disgrace.
     
  16. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Moderator Staff Member

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    The one thing missing from Bristol is a small but high quality Bird House, something in the style of London or Basel. It would complement the other houses and potentially add a lot of species without taking up too much space.

    I also have my doubts about the lawns, but I think they act as sort of 'family holding areas'. People seem to picnic on them and I imagine spend more time there than on the animals.

    My one criticism is that I wish Bristol had the vision or bravery to move the lions out. I know people say the enclosure is actually adequate for the animals it holds; well, it certainly doesn't feel like it! Bern has shown that a world class zoo can absolutely do without lions or tigers. Leopards or Snow leopards would do much better on the site, though not in that particular enclosure.

    Seal and Penguin Coast remains one of my favourite exhibits in the world.
     
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  17. Brum

    Brum Well-Known Member

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    Dudley springs to mind, completely surrounded by an urban landscape.
     
  18. redstarsmith

    redstarsmith Well-Known Member

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    Dudley is a town. But I’m Obviously missing out Belfast and Edinburgh. Chester is a city but wouldn’t include Chester Zoo as an inner city zoo. Tropical World Leeds isn’t what i’d Class as an ABC Zoo.

    Find it interesting that inner city Abc Zoos have disappeared or never really existed. Manchester’s closed in the 70’s Liverpool’s before the turn of the 20th century.

    I think that Bristol’s Lion enclosures is adaquete. But it’s not like they don’t have the space to move them to a bigger enclosure on site.
     
  19. Ned

    Ned Well-Known Member

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    Personally I consider Clifton as a suburb rather than inner-city.
     
  20. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    I think that would be a grave mistake. Bristol is in competition with that Creationist place down the road and it needs its ABC species to maintain its appeal: I don't think any other cats are quite as attractive for the general public as lions - with the possible exception of Siberian tigers (which would obviously be quite wrong for Bristol). If the zoo could find the money, I think the ideal solution would be to build a lion enclosure at The Wild Place for the current animals, then revamp the current enclosure, extending it a little towards the main terrace and then bring in a young lioness and hope for cubs.
    As I have said before, Bristol's main market is families with young children; in school holidays mainly primary school children and in term time mothers with pushchairs and infants. So they expect lions, gorillas, monkeys, meerkats, 'sea lions', penguins, snakes, tortoises and crocodiles. The zoo has also provided a lot more play areas in the last 20 years or so, with ZooRopia around the main playground, the Splash Zone and the maze, which have nibbled away at the lawns. I agree that the Main Lawn acts as a 'family holding area' but I don't think that is a problem and it is also the auditorium for the animal shows, which seem very popular.
    I also agree that a new Bird House would be a welcome development. If it were my decision, I'd demolish the old circular aviary (built for birds of prey in the '60s) and the Monkey Temple and put something special there - how about a New Zealand exhibit for the keas with kakarikis, kiwis and whatever else they could beg from New Zealand?