Bristol Zoo Gardens will be a valuable community asset

Bristol Zoo Gardens will be a valuable community asset for generations to come, says Chief Executive Dr Justin Morris.

His comment comes as Bristol Zoological Society reveals more details of its plans and new images for the 186-year-old site, after Bristol Zoo Gardens closes to the public in September.

Dr Morris said: “This is a special place in all our hearts. It has always brought people and wildlife together and it will continue to do that.

“It will still be a destination for Bristolians. It will be a place for the local community, visitors and residents to meet and as we announced before Christmas, the gardens will be open to everyone free of charge for the first time ever.”

He said the community was at the heart of plans for the 12-acre site which now include:

  • The theatre and main lawn becoming a focal point for community, cultural and educational activities
  • More entrances to ensure that the award-winning gardens are easy for people to reach
  • Monkey Temple, the Aviary and Bear Pit will be restored with new planting and seating
  • A new publicly accessible children’s playground 
  • The creation of the Clifton conservation hub, providing learning spaces and programmes for and by local community groups

There will be a cafe with indoor and outdoor seating at Bristol Zoo Gardens’ iconic entrance building. 

Plans are also being considered for a public art trail featuring new sculptures and displays for both permanent and temporary exhibits. 

Dr Morris said: “The elements that make this such a special place, such as the secret paths, the mature trees and shrubs and their unique setting, will all remain.

“I genuinely believe the gardens will be a tremendous community asset for all Bristolians, for generations to come.”

The lake, around which the walled gardens are laid out, will be enhanced to improve the habitat for amphibians and fish.

The majority of high grade trees will remain, with new landscaping to improve their health. 

Dr Morris said: “This is our legacy, a lasting gift to the community of Bristol, which we know will be welcomed and enjoyed by generations of people now and well into the future.”

Plans for the Bristol Zoo Gardens site also include building around 206 homes with solar panels and air source heat pumps, and will be submitted to Bristol City Council later this spring.

Bristol Zoological Society has organised a series of public consultation and exhibition events. A drop-in event is being held between 3pm and 7.30pm on Thursday, 24 March at Bristol Zoo Gardens’ Clifton Pavilion on College Road. For further details of the plans and Bristol Zoological Society’s ‘Strategy to 2035’, and to sign up to the enewsletter go to future.bristolzoo.org.uk

Dr Morris said: “What we are proposing is a response to people’s comments in previous consultations. We have been listening throughout and now we are keen to again hear what they think about our plans.”