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Bristol Zoo (Closed) The last crusade: Bristol

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by AthleticBinturong, 11 Feb 2022.

  1. AthleticBinturong

    AthleticBinturong Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    Part 1: Overpriced breakfasts and mental lions.

    Bristol Zoo Gardens, since my childhood I have longed to visit this historic zoo so it was a great shock to me when the Zoo last year announced it would be closing forever and relocating to the Wild Place project in late 2022. Having long mulled over the idea of going to Bristol I finally bit the bullet in late January whilst skimming through sky scanner as I do regularly. The recent closure of the nocturnal house and the threat of more house closures or animal departures in the coming months combined with A €19.98 return flight from Dublin to Bristol was too big a draw for me to resist (considering it costs me more to return home from uni every weekend!). The date was set; 8th February 2022, my first and more than likely last ever visit to Bristol Zoo.

    With my bag packed the night before I woke up at the unmerciful hour of 2:40am having gone to sleep the night previous at 10pm. After saying my goodbyes to my half-asleep girlfriend, I headed out on my first ever solo international zoo trip. Walking down the streets of Cork city at 3 in the morning is an experience to say the least. The roads were busy with taxis whilst the early rising birds sung in the trees illuminated by the streetlamps. Getting further into the city from my uni accommodation I frequented more and more drunk students with pizza boxes in their hands (How I wished I was them at this point!). I was beyond tired at this point and hadn’t been out at this time since before the pandemic with Ireland having only recently opened up the majority of restrictions. Having boarded the bus on the other side of the river Lee I immediately tried to go to sleep something which I found very hard to do on the 3-hour bus journey to Dublin airport, probably a combination of pure excitement and incredible discomfort. 6:30 am couldn’t have come quick enough as I was desperate to get off the bus at this point. After a brief exchange of words with a very rude bus driver having reached our destination, I headed off into Dublin airports terminal one. Ahhh Terminal one, the far superior terminal in Dublin in my eyes even if its age is definitely starting to show. In my eyes a great airport terminal is defined by its availability of good fast food. Terminal two has only a Burger King (of which I am certainly not a fan) whilst terminal one has a McDonald’s the far superior in all fast-food restaurants globally. The Oasis of bands, the Athletic club Bilbao of football teams or the Guinness of alcoholic beverages if you will (definitely no personal biases here). So, it came to much disappointment to me when I went up the escalators in the departures area to discover McDonald’s was not yet open and would not open until 7am, too late for me to want to risk getting caught in queues or the like on the wrong side of security. So, I headed on in through the security gates and off into the duty free and pre-departure restaurants and shops. The appeal of a cooked breakfast drew me into the only restaurant that seemed to be serving any on that floor of the airport. Forgetting about how much of a rip off airport food is, I ordered a ‘Mini breakfast’ so I was then asked what 4(!) items I would like, so a bacon rasher, a sausage, a fried egg and one singular hash brown as well as 2 cold slices of toast were added to my plate. A coffee or tea came included with the breakfast and with my lack of sleep the night before I went for a black coffee. €10.25. For that. In the breakfast place I eat out in frequently in Cork city (Tony’s Bistro, I cannot recommend enough) you would easily get 3 times if not 4 times the food for the same price. Bloody Dublin…Having finished my incredibly overpriced breakfast I went in search of a few snacks for the day to keep my going as I likely would not have time to have lunch. Having picked these up I headed for the departure gate where I sat down and read my book of the moment : “Oasis : Supersonic”. If you like Oasis at all and don’t find the Gallagher brothers unbearable then I’d recommend this book highly. It uses only interviews to tell the story of the rise of the 90s group and is very entertaining in parts. The flight itself was grand, nothing too exciting really and I unfortunately couldn’t really catch a glimpse at the British landscape out the window with it’s awkward positioning and the fact I was sitting in a middle seat. It was a short flight over, only around 40 minutes so I read some more and finished off a podcast I had been listening to.

    Having planned buses to and from Bristol airport to Temple Meads and then onwards to the zoo previous to setting off on my trip I had planned to get the 9:50 bus from the airport but in a lucky turn of fate the plane landed early and having jogged lightly through a relatively compact airport I manage to just about make the 9:30 Airport flyer bus service to Temple meads. For the interest of any others who wish to replicate my trip I believe these buses run every 20 minutes or so to and from the airport and the city centre. Whilst the number 8 bus I used to get to the zoo from Temple meads station runs every 10 minutes if I remember correctly. Having gotten an earlier bus meant I could catch an earlier bus to the zoo too so I made up an additional 20 minutes on what was a very tight schedule. I got a good impression of Bristol from the buses. My parents had been previously and said it was lovely and I had heard great things from others about the city too so I was keen to see it for myself. I would love to come back and experience it properly sometime. I arrived at the zoo at 10:36 am nearly 8 hours after I had left my uni accommodation in Cork city. I was relieved that the first leg of my travels were over to say the least. I headed on through the beautiful entrance building and into the zoo where I was met with the colourful flamboyance of Chilean flamingos in their nearby aviary. I took sometime to get my camera out of my bag here and to mull over the map I was given. If I had one criticism of Bristol zoo it would be the map. A black and white A4 piece of paper with hard to distinguish black figures of animals on it. I love zoo maps and always have done but this was definitely one of the poorest I’ve ever received. I know economically it makes sense but I would be willing to pay up to around 3£ if it meant I would receive a quality map in return. Anyway enough ranting..


    Having glanced over the animal talk schedule board I noted that there was an Asiatic lion (Panthera leo leo) talk at 11am so I didn’t stray too far from the lions until after this period. For ease of reading and so my walk through makes more sense I will discuss the exhibits I had seen up until the lion talk after I discuss the lions. The lion exhibit was hit and miss for me. I liked the viewing opportunities it gave visitors as well as the planting and opportunities to hide it gave the lions however it is a little on the small side, however that is coming from someone who sees Asiatic lions in a near acre in Fota Wildlife Park nearly every week. The lion talk happened to coincide with feeding of the lions so upon my arrival in the zoo the lions were off show in their house whilst keepers hung up a horse head from a pulley like system in the larger of the two combined exhibits whilst in the other small section the horse head was put up in a tree. The woman that was giving the talk, who was very pleasant and chatty with me several times on my visit, explained that the male and female needed to be fed separately to ensure they both got equal amounts, so the male was fed in the smaller of the pens whilst the female was fed in the other. The male Shahee must be the most impressive and awe-inspiring Lion I’ve ever set eyes on. Whilst the keeper was opening up the sliding door giving him access to the other section of the exhibit and his food Shahee jumped up at the Perspex covering sections of the mesh here and began aggressively banging at it as if he wanted to get at the keeper. Having noticed the open door, he walked on through but keen to scare the absolute crap out of every visitor present he threw himself at the visitor glass before nonchalantly strolling off to retrieve his brunch. This was one of the best lion experiences I’ve ever had along with another I’ll discuss later. It really made me appreciate the size and power these animals have and what damage he would do if the barrier wasn’t there. Moving on from the lion’s exhibit is a nice cliff backed exhibit for Kea (Nestor notabilis). I’ve only seen Kea on a handful of occasions previously, so they were nice to see. A very lively Red panda (Ailurus fulgens) duo took up the other cliff backed exhibits. I must have stayed taking photos of the red pandas for 10 minutes. The most photogenic mammal on earth?
     
  2. AthleticBinturong

    AthleticBinturong Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    This is my first ever long piece I've ever uploaded on Zoochat so any advice or constructive criticism is welcome! Also i'll be adding the rest of the thread over the coming days but the pictures will be coming after as I brought the wrong SD card home!
     
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  3. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member 10+ year member

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    Bristol always used to do really nice maps - I strongly suspect the flimsy paper map you encountered (as did I last October) is nothing more nor less than an indication they see no point in producing anything of higher quality but increased production expense for a "doomed" collection :(
     
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  4. AthleticBinturong

    AthleticBinturong Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    It’s a real shame. I was hoping they’d go out with a back in terms of a map or maybe even a guide book (you’d know a lot more than me in terms of their recent guide book publications) but oh well:(
     
  5. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member 10+ year member

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    Just rooted out the map they provided (for free!) at the time of my April 2015 visit:

    IMG_20220211_185341668.jpg

    At that time they also had a guidebook (their first for around 15 years) which was heavily overpriced for what it was at over £10, and as such sold poorly. I certainly didn't pick up a copy myself, having been unemployed at the time and hence on a budget, and still don't own it now due to how short the print run was.

    They historically did rather nice guidebooks - I have a 1920s one scanned in now, ready for an upcoming post on my guidebook thread.
     
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  6. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member 15+ year member

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    I think you have to be realistic this is not going to happen.

    I just wish they would speed up Development at Wild Place .... Bristol Zoo has become a crumbling masterpiece of a very nice easy to go around zoo with a very diverse collection that catered to everyone.
     
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  7. Fallax

    Fallax Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    This thread is really making me consider making the journey to Bristol before it closes, been thinking about doing it since September but kept putting it off, wish I did it sooner TBH
     
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  8. AthleticBinturong

    AthleticBinturong Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    You should I really enjoyed my visit even though the collection isn’t as good as it may once have been. Only going to get progressively smaller the long you put it off!
     
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  9. TNT

    TNT Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    Should be relatively easy for you when you're back home from uni! :)
     
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  10. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    Reads very well, except that those are Greater Flamingos
     
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  11. AthleticBinturong

    AthleticBinturong Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    My mistake. So used to seeing Chilean flamingos it was auto fill in my mind:p
     
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  12. AthleticBinturong

    AthleticBinturong Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    Part 2: Struggling tortoises and "My worst nightmare"

    Having just seen the red pandas, the Bat walk through was next. An extension of a nocturnal house which I was sad to not have seen but oh well. The bat walk through is outdoors, something I’ve never seen before having only ever seen bats indoors. The Livingstone’s fruit bat (Pteropus livingstonii) present remained indoors and never ventured out into the walk-through section something I imagine is commonplace at this time of year. The Malay mouse deer (Tragulus kanchil) were sadly no shows. Exiting the bat walk through brought me onto a covered pathway home to the zoos ‘Amphi-pod’ exhibits. A lab sort of set up was home to numerous terrariums for two species of frog; the lemur frog (Agalychnis lemur) and mountain chicken frog (Leptodactylus fallax). Also viewable from the covered pathway for Aldabra tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea) and rhinoceros iguana (Cyclura cornuta) of which I did not see the latter.

    I then headed on into the zoo’s reptile house which was roughly sub divided into sections one of which seemed to focus on rainforest species, another on lizards, juvenile reptiles and frogs and another on desert species. I enjoyed the reptile house it had a nice collection however some species including the crocodile were no shows. The particular highlight for me was watching a pancake tortoise repeatedly try to pull itself onto a cliff edge on the side off its terrarium. It must have been trying for at least 2 or 3 minutes before finally manging to get itself up. The three tanks at the entrance to the reptile house held blue tree monitor (Boranus macrali), Malagasy tree boa (Sanzinia madagascariensis) and Emerald tree monitor (Varanus prasinus). The two monitors in particular were very active. Coming past these tanks and before heading onwards into the rest of the reptile house a small doorway led me into a small corridor with tanks on three sides. Roughly from right to left these held Blue tree monitor (juveniles), Turquoise dwarf gecko (Lygodactylus williamsi), Henkel' leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus henkeli), Bearded pygmy chameleon (Rieppeleon brevicaudatus), Yellow-headed day gecko (Phelsuma klemmeri), Emperor newt (Tylototriton shanjing), Golden poison frog (Phyllobates terribilis), Black marsh turtle (juveniles) (Siebenrockiella crassicollis), Yellow Margined box turtle (juvenile) (Cuora flavor irginata), African pancake tortoise (juveniles) (Malacochersus tornieri), Blue poison dart frog (Dendrobates azureus) and Chapa bug-eyed frog (Theloderma bicolor). Going back onto the main corridor of the reptile house large terrariums for Utila spipy-tailed iguana (Ctenosaura bakeri), Cuban boa (Chilabothrus angulifer), New Guinea amethystine python (Morelia amethistina), Leptien’s spiny tailed lizard (Uromastyx aegyptia) featured on the left before a wooden boardwalk brought me over open top exhibits for Malaysian giant pond turtle (Orlitia borneensis) and Trinidad stream frog (Mannophryne trinitatis) on the left and West African dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis tetraspis) on the right. The reptile house was rounded out with a mixed species exhibits for Blue tree monitor and Mountain chicken frog, Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum suspectum), and Blue spiny lizard (Sceloporus sernter cyanogenys), African pancake tortoise (Malacochersus tomien) and Round-nosed plated lizard (Gerrhosauras major), and exhibits for Egyptian tortoise (Testdo kmani), Chinese crocodile lizard (Shinisaurus Crocodilurus) and Prehensile tailed skink (Corucia zebrata). The final exhibit in the house was an open top one for Black marsh turtle (Siebenrockiella crassicollis), Annam leaf turtle(Mauremys annamensis) and Yellow-margined box turtle (Cora flavomarginata)

    Between the reptile house and aquarium was a ‘bear pole’ from the zoo’s old bear pit which is where the aquarium now stands. A sign on the pole discusses the use of bearpits in the past and how Bristol Zoo itself had one until relatively recent in UK standards upon till the early 1970s. Another thing I noticed between the two buildings was an interactive board focusing on reaction speed to highlight the rapid reaction speeds seen in other animals. This was part of a larger Zoolympics project around the zoo. I myself scored rather poorly in comparison to the likes of the praying mantis whose example of 100ms was given (I’ll blame the lack of sleep for that one!)

    Before heading into the ‘World of Water’ building I was greeted with a smaller outdoor tank for white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) which looked empty. Up above the tank was a collection of cacti. Upon heading on into the aquarium I first looked at the three tanks which take up the left-hand side of the first room. These housed African freshwater butterflyfish (Pantodon buchholzi), African black knife fish (Xenomystus nigri), Yellowtail tetra (Alestopetersius caudalis), and Kribensis (Pelvicachromis subocellatus) in the first tank, Checkerboard cichlid (Julidochromis marlieri), lyretail cichlid (Neolamprologus brichardi), cichlid (cyathopharynx furcifer) in the second and Goldbreast splitfin (ilyodon furcidens) in the third. On the right-hand side was a large brackish themed tank for Ocellate freshwater stingray (Potamotrygon motoro), Ripsaw catfish (Oxydoras Niger), Flagtail characin (Semaprochilodus insignis), White-striped catfish (Pimelodus albofasciatus), Silver dollar (Metynnis argenteus), Porcupine freshwater stingray (Potamotrygon hystrix). Another large tank housed Asiatic arowana Scleropages formosus///Tricolor sharkminnow (Balantiocheilus melanopterus), Isok barb (Prebarbus juillient), Clown loach (Chromebetia macracanthus), Fly-river turtle (Carettochelys insculpta). 2 smaller tanks following these housed Unga barombi mbo cichlid (Sarotherodon linnellii), Leka keppe cichlid (Sarotherodon lohbergeri) in the first and Butterfly splitfin (Ameca splendens), Bluetail splitfin (Ataeniobius toweri) and Goldbreast splitfin (ilyodon furcidens) in the latter. The most interesting tank for me came in the form of a Mississippi focused tank which was viewed by an underwater glass tunnel. It was interesting to see species that aren’t sharks in one of these tanks especially given the fascinating fish within which were American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula), Alligator gar (Lepisosteus spatula), Grass carp (Ctenopharyngodonidella), Longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus) and Spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus). Having walked through the tunnel I entered into the ‘Mangrove’ section of the aquarium. To my left a long tank held smaller species in Horseface loach (Acantopsis choirorhynchos), Barred rainbowfish (Chilatherina fasciata), Silver loach (Yasuhikotakia lecontei), Gold ring hillstream loach (Sewellia lineolate), Weather loach (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus), and Almorha loach (Botia almorhae) whilst a large lushly planted tank fit with a water falling down from the top stood directly in front of the Mississippi tunnel and held Archer fish (Toxotes jaculatrix), African mono (Monodactylus sebae), Scat (Scatophagus argus), Diamond fish (Monodactylus argenteus) and East coast grey cichlid (Ptychochromis sp). Pinstripe damba, (Paretroplus menarambo), Kotsovato (Paretroplus kieneri) and Mangarahara cichlid (Ptychochromis insolitus) featured in a similar tank next door. A small tank for some Freshwater dwarf shrimp (Neocoridina heteropoda) and Endler's guppy (Poecilia wingei) featured on the opposing wall before I exited the building. I enjoyed the aquarium. It was nice to see so many freshwater species of fish as most aquariums have very few. It’s a shame the majority of not all of these species will not be moving over to the new site.

    Upon exiting the aquarium, I noticed what I presume was the old entrance for the building. A stone eagle sat upon a brick structure with ‘The World of Water’ blazoned across it must have made for a nice entrance when in use. However, the structure now is blocked off with metal fencing and all I could see through the old doorway was some plants. Along the right-hand side of the path between the aquarium and the bug world lay three stones with what I presume are artificial impressions of trilobites (however I may be wrong). ‘Bug world’ is roughly broken up into sections comprising of rainforest, ocean and desert species. The layout itself is several rooms interconnected with one long corridor running along the right of the building. The walls of this corridor were interestingly full of pictures and graphics describing and showcasing the history of the zoo as well as art from local schools. The windows on the other side of the corridor overlook the bordering Clifton College. The largest group of Madagascan hissing cockroaches (Gromphadorhina portentosa) that I’ve ever seen were the inhabitants of the first tank built into the left-hand side wall. It is at this point I should mention a woman who definitely has gotten herself into my ‘Top 5 most annoying people I have ever encountered in a zoo’ list who at every tank would look in, look at the invert in question, read the sign and the exclaim to her boyfriend that “Oh no its (*Insert name of invert*), this is my worst nightmare”. At every single tank. This is a topic which really interests me actually. Are a lot of arachnophobes, for example genuinely scared of spiders or are they just scared of spiders because society tells them to be? I strongly believe the latter is the case. Chilean rose tarantula (Grammostola rosea) and Painted tarantula (Brachypelma emilia) took up the two other smaller tanks built into the left-hand side wall. Three tanks built into wooden structures on the opposite side of the room held Malaysian Leaf Katydid (Ancylecha fenestrate) and a large colony of Giant South American grasshopper (Tropidacris collaris) for whatever reason I don’t seem to have species assigned to the other tank although I believe it may be Horned Flower beetle (Eudicella aethiopica). The large tank on the left-hand side before exiting that room was home to Vietnamese giant stick insect (Phryganistria heusii yentuensis). The next room was dominated by a large tank which flanked the right of the room. Feasting away on their fruit were Horned flower beetle, Purple jewel beetle (chlorocala africana oertzeni) and Ornate sun beetle (Pachnoda trimaculata). A colony of leaf cutter ants (Acromyrmex octospinosus) housed in a tank filled with crates with ‘Import from Kenya’ and what not labelled on them was the last of the tanks in this section.

    The next section of the invert house seemed to function as the stand in for a lack of saltwater species emphasis in the aquarium. Immediately upon entering into this room was a tank full of colour thanks to the numerous coral species within. The tank held Cleaner shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni), Umbrella false coral (Discosoma Sp.), Soft coral (Anthelia), Yellow star coral (Xenia Sp.), Mushroom coral (Fungia fungites), Branching frog spawn (Euphyllia paradivisa), Encrusting gorgonian (Erythrpodium caribaeorum), Candycane coral (Caulastrea), Tomato clownfish (Amphipron frenatus) and Banggai cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni). The tank along the right held Bubbletip anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor), Slate-pencil sea urchin (Eucidans tribubides), Common clownfish (Amphiprion ocellars) and Banggai cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni) whilst a long one on the left held Upside-down jellyfish (Cassiopeia Sp.). The final tank in this section along the back wall was home to Sexy shrimp (Thor amboinensis), Candycane coral (Caulastrea), Ivory coral (Golaxen fascicularis), Pink cauliflower coral (Stipphora pistilata), Branching montipora coral (Montpera spp), Plating montipora coral (Montipora spp.), Brush coral (Pociorpora damicornis), Bird nest coral (Seriatopora hystrix), Star coral (Favia) and Coral (Duncanopsammia axifuga).

    With the ocean focused section finished I entered a loosely defined Desert section. The walls in this section were painted yellow as opposed to the green and blue walls seen in the previous sections. The first tank on the left held Domino cockroach (Therea bernhardti), The five tanks within the wall on the right held Assassin bug (Platymeris biguttata), Mexican flame leg spider (Brachypelma boehmei), Vinegaroon (Mastigoproctus giganteus), Weaver ant (Polyrhachis dives) and Cave or cellar cricket (Presphiacris breduides). The weaver ants in particular made a nice display as did the large population of cave crickets. A central structure had several tanks within it which held two displays of Golden orb weaving spider (Nephila inaurata madagascariensis) and Emperor scorpion (Pandinus imperator). Heading on into the next room a lab like set up with small tanks for two species endemic to Madeira; Desertas snail (Geomitra grabhami) and Desertas wolf spider (Hogna ingens). I was really taken aback by the information sign on the snails as I was unaware the 50 of them that are still around reside solely on one hillside! Exhibits for Ethiopian cricket (Homoeogryllus xanthographus) and Simandoa cave cockroach (Simandoa conserfariam) rounded out the desert section. The back of bug world also features several exhibits part of the rainforest section which housed Lord Howe Island stick insect (Dryococelus australis), Leaf cutter ant (Acromyrmex octospinosus), Giant leaf insect (Juvenile) (Phyllum giganteum) and Malaysian giant jungle nymph (Juvenile) (Heteropteryx dilatate). After viewing these I walked along the long corridor and exited the building. I also really enjoyed this building, bar the likes of Berlin, London and Cologne very few of the near 40 zoos I’ve visited in my 21 years have held such a diverse collection of invertebrate species.

    After exiting ‘Bug world’ I took the opportunity to take out a cereal bar I had bought earlier in the airport as I hadn’t eaten since the overpriced breakfast in Dublin. Whilst tucking into the slightly melted, sticky bar I noticed some teenagers getting training on the ZooRopia course which runs around this part of the zoo, presumably for them to be overseeing visitors come peak season based on what I overheard. The zoo’s primate house was next to see on my visit. Outdoor exhibits for Brown spider monkey (Ateles hybridus) and Lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus) featured on the left and right-hand sides respectively. I was glad that the spider monkeys in particular were using their indoor housing at the time as the outdoor exhibit had slightly impeded viewing opportunities. Whilst the macaques rested in the upper reaches of the room, the spider monkeys were quite active with one going around with its food bucket around on its head. I always enjoy seeing spider monkeys, they’re a nice species and always seem to be up to something. The next room on the right-hand side held Black & gold howler monkey (Alouatta caraya) who were inactive at this time and when I returned later on. Opposite to the howler monkeys was a room for Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) and Crowned lemur (Eulemur coronatus). I didn’t see the crowned lemur, however. The outdoor space for the lemurs is a walk through but this is closed to visitor access in the winter months. After the outdoor space for the howler monkeys was a view onto part of the outdoor gorilla habitat but they weren’t to be seen there at that time. Coming up to a Y junction I picked the left side option which brought me to ‘Seal and Penguin coasts’ a marquee exhibit complex which opened in 1999. I entered through the building way first which brought me through underwater viewing tunnels for both of the exhibits as well as extensive signage on the threats to the species present. Small tanks in the building housed Black gobies (Gobius niger), Pot-bellied sea horse (Hippocampus abdominalis) and Spiny starfish (Marthasterias glacialis) in their own individual tanks and a mixed tank for Snakelocks anemone (Anemonia viridis), Scarlet anemone (Actina equina), Brittlestar (Ophiothrix nigra), Common prawn (Palaemon serratus), Strawberry anemone (Actina fragacea), Clonal plumose anemone (Metridium senile) and Bernard’s hermit crab (Pagurus bernhardus). I only briefly seen the South American fur seal (Arctocephalus australis) from the underwater viewing and didn’t see any of the avian occupants of the other exhibit. Upon walking up and out of the building and onto a boardwalk I caught much better views of this underrepresented pinniped with a backdrop of the rather pleasant looking buildings of Clifford college. Out of the three males present, one lay basking in the sun trying hard to break through the overcast sky whilst the other two swam around in their pool. In the corner of my eye, I noticed a keeper and another girl (presumably on work experience) carrying buckets of fish towards the entrance to the aviary, so I followed in athe hope I would see the birds being fed. With avian influenza a major threat to birds in the UK and Ireland at the moment, disinfecting mats were laid down on the floor between the double doors of the entrance and exit of the aviary housing Common eider duck (Somateria mollissima), African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) and Inca tern (Larosterna inca). This was a fantastic exhibit and with the keeper throwing fish into the pool a thrilling showing of terns swooping and diving over my head, penguins comically sliding down the slope at the back of the exhibit down to the pool and eiders bobbing along the waves created by the wave machine it made for a really great experience. Bar the need for a bit of paint on the walls (No real point painting them now really!) I thought the complex was fantastic. The choice of fur seals and African penguins over Californian sea lions and Humboldt penguins was a good one in my opinion and overall I don’t think this exhibit has aged too badly at all given it is 22 years old!
     
  13. Crowthorne

    Crowthorne Moderator Staff Member 10+ year member

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    Was that the A4-paperback with a gorilla on the front?
     
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  14. The Hedgehog

    The Hedgehog Well-Known Member

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    @Crowthorne I own the guidebook that you are referring too. The Western Lowland Gorilla on the front was Romena. I would recognise Romena any day,she had a very distinctive head shape. I think it’s a tragedy that the current Bristol Zoo is closing. I hope that the relocated Zoo lives up to the standards of the current site.
     
  15. AthleticBinturong

    AthleticBinturong Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    Sorry for the delay in finishing off this thread, Uni and my part time job consume most of my time so I didn't have time to devote myself to the write up. I must commend the likes of @snowleopard ,@TeaLovingDave and @Coelacanth18 who I drew inspiration from for this longer form post and who have a far better writing ability than me!

    Heading on out of a really good exhibit complex lead me into the gorilla house. None of the troop of Western Lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) were inside at the time but a large group of visitors in the distance assured me the gorillas were active outdoors. With another stroke of luck, two members of staff were throwing the gorilla’s lunch across the water and into the gorilla exhibit. Volunteers were also present answering any questions the public had about the great apes. Just like the lion encounter earlier I would go to see this is one of the best viewings of a species I’ve ever had. With several youngsters and their mothers and a Jock, a very impressive silverback all being very active and interacting with one another it made for a great sight. I believe the gorillas as well as the red pandas are some of the only mammal species moving directly from this site over to the wild place. I really liked this area of the zoo surrounding the large lake. The boardwalks and lushly planted path sides create a really stunning area. The several islands are home to a trio of primates: Agile gibbon (Hylobates agilis), Golden-headed lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysomelas) and Common squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus). I believe in the not-so-distant past there was several more animals both on the islands and in the water surrounding them. Having admired the primates, I headed down the boardwalk with the gibbons on my right and a mucked-up exhibit for no show Visayan warty pig (Sus cebifrons) on my left. Passing an exhibit which formally held otters I turned left down a cul-de-sac which terminated with a finely meshed exhibit for Lac Alaotra gentle lemur (Hapalemur griseus alaotrensis) on the left-hand side. I rather like this species and with their wild population so critically endangered it is a pity they are not as common in captivity as their ring tailed or ruffed relatives. Heading back onto the main path I encountered a large cage like structure which within it contained three separate aviaries. They contained Violet Turaco (Musophaga violacea) and Socorro dove (Zenaida macroura graysoni) as well as a mixed aviary with Princess parrot (Polytelis alexandrae) and Eurasian Hoopoe (Upypa epops). Not being much of a bird man and with time being rather tight I didn’t linger here for too long before heading onwards in search of a tree kangaroo. With several outdoor areas and an indoor area split up into several different sections this is the largest set up I’ve seen for tree kangaroos anywhere. With my previous encounters of Goodfellow's tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus goodfellowi) being restricted to rather inactive individuals, I was rather joyous when I seen this particular individual hop around from tree to tree in his indoor habitat. I stayed watching him for quite some time trying to get the perfect shot which proved rather tricky with the glare on the glass. An aviary for Bali starling (Leucopsar rothschildi) bordered the indoor section for the kangaroos. Going back out through the doors to this complex I was confronted with the education centre of the zoo which actually runs some masters programmes on site which I was unaware of but have taken a note of with myself going into my final year of my undergraduate degree in September. Turning left on this path would have brought me past former exhibits for pygmy hippo and tapir and to the seal and penguin coast so I went right back past the aforementioned aviaries and a small botanical section centred around the former monkey temple. A row of wooden aviaries amongst some very nice gardens sat along the zoo’s exterior. Walking past these on my left and a nice stream on my right I saw Sumatran laughingthrush (Garrulax bicolor) in the first aviary,



    Palawan peacock pheasant (Polyplectron emphanum) and Bali starling In the second, Mindanao bleeding-heart dove (Gallicolumbia criniger) and Roulroul partridge (Rollulus roulroul) called the third aviary home whilst White-naped pheasant pigeon (Otidiphaps nobilis aruensis) and Eurasian hoopoe rounded out the set. An exhibit for two Patagonian mara (Dolichotis patagonum) completed this rather species shy section of the zoo.
    Bordering the lake and with the squirrel monkeys in view behind is the Meerkat (Suricata suricata) house and exhibit. I think this was rather good exhibit for meerkats. Glass fronting for the majority of the exhibit allows for good views of these perennially seen species. A man around my own age, visiting with his girlfriend got great entertainment out of one of the meerkats sitting on top of the glass dome they were under in the left-hand side of the outdoor exhibit. Moving on from the meerkats was a few caged aviaries for a variety of birds. I found them simple but effective yet quite frustrating from a photography point of view. Sun conure (Aratinga solstitialis) and unseen Palawan peacock pheasant (Polyplectron emphanum) shared the first whilst Princess parrot (Polytelis alexandrae) and Bali starling (Leucopsar rothschildi) shared the other. After visiting these aviaries I headed back onto the wooden boardwalk where I got much better views of the squirrel monkeys who made for excellent viewing as they frolicked around in a cherry blossom tree as well as the Golden lion tamarins in their housing. Coming off the boardwalk I came across a playground and what I believe was the former bird house which had/has a lorikeet walkthrough coming off the back of it. With bird flu and issue this was closed regardless. There was however another small aviary for Black-cheeked lovebird (Agapornis nigrigensis) and Socorro dove (Zenaida macroura graysoni) nearby. I walked through this area rather quickly enroute to the butterfly house. Upon entry, being a wearer of glasses from the age of 18 months old I was blinded by the condensation which immediately formed on my lenses. This is me in every single house which is slightly above an average temperature (Including my own nanny’s house!). Two volunteers greeted me upon entry and explained that they were receiving a new delivery of butterfly cocoons in the coming days and so the house was rather void of butterflies at the moment. This was unfortunate but thankfully I was once again able to have a good conversation with a member of staff who showed great interest and fascination in my short solo trip to visit the zoo. Leaving the butterfly house left me with just one exhibit I had not seen before revisiting my favourite areas. Linné's two-toed sloth (Cholagpus didactylus), asleep as always inhabited what was once the drill exhibit right at the zoo’s entrance/exit.
    I revisited all of the mammal exhibits but in truth only the lion’s behaviour is worth discussing more. The male once again was proving why he is the most entertaining lion I have ever seen as he repeatedly let out loud, guttural roars for at least five minutes. The roar of a lion for anyone who has been unfortunate no to have witness it, is one of the greatest noises in nature. Every single time I hear one I am wowed as the roar vibrates itself up through your body. After leaving the lions I headed into the giftshop where I picked up a set of small post cards which I plan to frame at a later date as well as two Bristol Zoo branded chocolate bars and a Bristol Zoo mug. Upon leaving the zoo for the first and final time I felt rather emotional. I really enjoyed my day and thought it was quite a nice collection all things considered, and an even better setting with the gardens and surrounding area. I managed to get my picture of myself outside of the zoo’s iconic entrance building taken by a man before I walked to the bus stop and waited for the next bus.
    The bus brought me to Temple Meads where I got my connection to the airport. Bristol airport was much smaller than I anticipated and so with no bags to check in, I flew through it, straight through security and on into duty free. One thing I love to do whilst in duty free is to find an aftershave I absolutely cannot afford and cover my neck and wrists with it. The aftershave of the day today was Dior Sauvage mostly because I seen Johnny Depp’s face and remembered he played guitar on the Oasis song I was listening to at the time! Much to my annoyance only one restaurant in the airport was open, and it wasn’t a fast food one. I sat down in this restaurant with my empty stomach pleading for some sort of food. I ordered the standard beef burger with chips and a pint of cider. Guess the price. Go on. No, more. £24. Nearly €30 for a very average burger about 10 chips and a non-cold cider. Argggggghhhh. The flight was busy and so boarding was quite slow with only one staff member checking boarding passes and passports. The 40-minute flight flew by and upon arrival in Dublin I was hungry again, so I went to McDonald’s and got myself a black coffee and an apple pie which I love. The bus home wasn’t for an hour, so I was able to chill for the first time today. After the lengthy bus journey, I went over to my girlfriend’s and gave her one of the branded chocolate bars I bought in the zoo which she really enjoyed. I thoroughly enjoyed this trip. The zoo itself as discussed thoroughly on this forum will be sorely missed, myself now included. I do also hope that the new Bristol Zoo exceeds the expectations that have been placed on it and I aspire to visit that zoo as soon as it opens up as the new Bristol Zoo.
     
    Last edited: 28 Feb 2022
  16. AthleticBinturong

    AthleticBinturong Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    IMG-1402.JPG IMG-1606.JPG IMG-1053.jpg IMG-1038.jpg IMG-1001.jpg
     

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    Last edited: 28 Feb 2022
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  17. AthleticBinturong

    AthleticBinturong Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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  18. dillotest0

    dillotest0 Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    So does that mean the Golden Lion Tamarin are still there or not?
     
  19. NigeW

    NigeW Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    I've really got to get there sooner rather than later. Thanks for the nudge AthleticBinturong.
     
  20. AthleticBinturong

    AthleticBinturong Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    They’re still there.
     
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