Jock the silverback gorilla at Bristol Zoo Gardens

Strategy to 2035

An exciting new future for Bristol Zoological Society.

Welcome


As Bristol Zoo celebrates its 185th anniversary this year, it seems more appropriate than ever that we should set out our Strategy to 2035 when we will celebrate our bicentenary.

Central to our strategy is our emerging vision for a new Bristol Zoo. Given our long history at the forefront of the development of zoos, Bristol Zoological Society is better placed than most to define what zoos should look like in the 21st Century.

We are excited by the prospect of a new kind of zoo where visitors and animals will be immersed in the natural landscape – the zoo in nature and nature in the zoo; where visitors will be encouraged to explore and discover, experiencing the extraordinary thrill of a chance encounter with animals in a range of wild places; connecting people with nature through a truly authentic experience.

However, the new Bristol Zoo will be much more than an exciting visitor destination. Animals will be chosen to ensure that we can achieve the greatest conservation impact; our education and scientific research programmes will grow significantly to form a new conservation campus; and our conservation action in the field, saving wildlife from extinction, will increase both at the Zoo, in the South West and around the world. All of this will build on the existing strength of our network of partners and collaborators, locally and internationally. The Zoo will be a centre of global understanding and action.

In order to realise our exciting vision for the new Bristol Zoo, we will sell the Clifton site. The funds raised are not only to enable the delivery of the first phase of the development of the new Bristol Zoo but also to increase and grow our education and direct conservation programmes.

The purpose of this website is to keep you updated on our progress as we enact our Strategy to 2035. Information about our vision for the future of the Clifton site, as well as the new developments at our new Bristol Zoo will be added as we progress through both projects.

You can also view an accessible version of our Strategy to 2035 here

What is happening?


In order to realise our exciting vision for the new Bristol Zoo, we will sell our Clifton properties including Bristol Zoo Gardens. The funds will not only enable the delivery of the first phase of the development of the new Bristol Zoo but will also be used to increase and grow our education and direct conservation programmes.

We have a unique opportunity to establish a new future for Bristol Zoo on the northern fringe of Bristol, within our reimagined conservation charity. In starting with an almost blank piece of paper there is scope to embed conservation research and fieldwork (in situ) with conservation breeding programmes (ex situ), engagement, education and outreach in the design and operation of the zoo. We plan to use this opportunity to inspire and enable positive actions for wildlife in our visitors – a truly integrated and extended ‘one plan approach’ to wildlife conservation.

Rangers with camera trap on Negros island, Philippines
Education officer showing students a snake during an education session

Why is this happening now?


Young boy looks with fascination at a bug exhibit

The Society has made an operating loss in four of the last six years and has persistently struggled to raise sufficient capital income for investment in its two zoos. This combined with the challenges inherent with the small size of Bristol Zoo Gardens and the financial impact of the Coronavirus pandemic led the Trustees and Shareholders to decide in 2020 to sell the Bristol Zoo Gardens site.

The sale will result in much-needed capital investment to develop the new Bristol Zoo and greater capacity for investment in conservation and education activities for the long-term.

An aerial photo of Bristol Zoo Gardens taken from a drone

Timeline


Winter 2020

Strategy announcement

Bristol Zoological Society

Winter/Spring 2021

Community engagement and design development

West Car Park

Spring 2021

Planning application submission

West Car Park

Spring 2021

‘Strategy to 2035’ published

Bristol Zoological Society

Summer/Autumn 2021

Community engagement and design development

Bristol Zoo Gardens

Summer/Autumn 2021

Community engagement and design development

new Bristol Zoo

Autumn 2021

Planning determination and marketing

West Car Park

Winter 2021

Planning application submission

new Bristol Zoo

Spring 2022

Planning application submission

Bristol Zoo Gardens

Summer 2022

Planning determination

Bristol Zoo Gardens

Summer 2022

Planning determination

new Bristol Zoo

Autumn 2022

Closes to the public

Bristol Zoo Gardens

Autumn 2022 onwards

Construction

new Bristol Zoo

Winter 2023

Sale complete

Bristol Zoo Gardens

2024

Opens to the public

new Bristol Zoo

Further information


Frequently asked questions

Click here to read our comprehensive list of frequently asked questions relating to our Strategy to 2035.

New Bristol Zoo proposal

Click here to find out more about our proposal for the development of the new Bristol Zoo.

Bristol Zoo Gardens proposal

Click here to find out more about our proposal for the redevelopment of our Clifton Site.

Latest news


  • Historic grounds will be open to the public for free, in new Bristol Zoo Gardens plans

    The award-winning grounds of Bristol Zoo Gardens will be open to the public after the site is sold, the charity has announced. Free access to the 185-year-old gardens, a new, publicly accessible children’s play area and a new Clifton Conservation…

  • Public Consultation Event – Tuesday 16 November and Zoom presentation – Tuesday 23 November

    Consultation meeting Tuesday 16 November, 3.00pm – 7.30pm, Clifton Pavilion, Bristol Zoo Gardens Bristol Zoological Society would like to invite you to our second round public consultation meeting. This drop-in meeting will take place at Bristol Zoo Gardens on Tuesday…

  • Plans approved to help safeguard the future of Bristol Zoological Society

    Planning permission has been granted to redevelop Bristol Zoological Society’s West Car Park for residential homes, a decision that will help safeguard the Society’s future. It applied for planning permission to develop 62 high quality, environmentally-friendly new homes, a mix…


Ranger explaining animal skull anatomy to a child

Get involved


We believe that it is important to hear what everybody has to say about our proposals for the new Bristol Zoo and about the sale of the Bristol Zoo Gardens site in Clifton. To share your thoughts and get involved please follow the link below.