Ranger explaining animal skull anatomy to a child

Engaging our public

Strategy to 2035 - Bristol Zoological Society.

Strategic plan

2. Engaging our public

The new Bristol Zoo

There is a unique opportunity to re-frame the new Bristol Zoo, located on the northern fringe of Bristol, within our reimagined conservation charity. In starting with an almost blank piece of paper there is an opportunity 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 and 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.

There is an opportunity to create a zoo with net zero carbon emissions and no negative impact on nature. Every aspect of the visitor experience will reinforce our conservation charity brand including the retail and catering. We will lead by example and connect all within the charity whilst creating a platform for new collaborations and partnerships.

The new Bristol Zoo will be ideally located for the next 185 years. Easily accessible, it will be a local, regional and national destination. It will be a destination for Bristol to match the ambition of the City and sit alongside other unique destinations such as Bristol Aerospace, The Wave and the YTL Arena Bristol.

Three young monitor tree lizards held by Bristol Zoo keeper
Child at Wild Place during February Half-Term

The landscape of the Hollywood Tower Estate is characterised by a mosaic of habitats. It is inherently wild. It readily offers an opportunity to explore the inter-connectedness of species, including humans. It is a space where ecology stories can be told rather than only zoology stories. The visitor will be immersed in this landscape as will the animals. Visitors will need to find the animals; they will need to explore and discover. They will experience the thrill of a chance encounter. They will experience wildlife without barriers in a range of wild places.

Animals will have the space and facilities to thrive. By developing a detailed species plan, they will all be chosen for our potential to achieve conservation impact. They will include current favourites at Bristol Zoo Gardens and old favourites may return.

Strategy to 2035 moodboard showing site plan and example photos of animals in natural environment and visitors enjoying themselves outdoors
Bristol Zoological Society Strategy to 2035 – Phase 1 moodboard

Changing behaviours

Engaging the greatest number and breadth of visitors is our best opportunity to save wildlife, and we must empower them to do it together with us. As the great Sir David Attenborough said, “No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced”. But we will go beyond that; by developing and applying our understanding of social science, we will encourage positive action for wildlife by understanding the motivations and barriers to act in our various audiences, leading to the outcome of ‘people choose to benefit wildlife’.

The need to sustain our environment and address the climate and ecological emergencies will be embedded throughout the visitor experience at the new Bristol Zoo. We will engage our visitors with the wider pressures on wildlife and importantly provide them with the tools to change their behaviours and work with us to reduce these pressures. As importantly we will lead by example and demonstrate to visitors through the development and operation of the new Bristol Zoo that we are willing to change our own behaviours and make the choices that are necessary to save wildlife together.

In addition, we will establish a new Conservation Hub in Clifton that will provide a permanent base for the education and conservation programmes of the Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project – continuing to reach audiences in Clifton and beyond. If the model is successful, we will work with other communities in Bristol to explore the establishment of further conservation hubs.

Royal Visit at Wild Place Project

Visitor experience

Visitors will be at the heart of how we think and what we do. The personal interaction with our staff and volunteers will be second to none and our visitors will become our ambassadors. We must ensure a high-quality experience pre-, during, and post-visit at the new Bristol Zoo.

The experience at the new Bristol Zoo will drive repeat visitation, membership and visitor donations, as well as day visitors. Importantly, the catering offer will adapt to meet these needs, with a focus on improved customer service and a proposition that is consistent with the values of the Society. There will be greater investment to improve visitor facilities, in particular to develop an improved arrival and exit experience and a new restaurant, to meet the needs of day visitors who may have travelled from afar.

Volunteer face painting a butterfly on a child's face, Bristol Zoo Garden
Close up of child in cafe eating

Harnessing digital media

Spacious shop with books on display and potted plants on walls

Digital and social media represent an extraordinary opportunity to be part of a much bigger conversation. We will increase the use of social and digital media to communicate our relevance and stimulate debate, and we will renew our website with a mobile-first approach that supports access from anywhere. As a result, we will grow the number of social media followers and digital media visits.

People in spacious, airy waiting hall with hanging plant pots and fresh looking foliage
View of curved entrance area of wooden reception building