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Bristol Zoological Society - Strategy to 2035

Frequently asked questions – new Bristol Zoo

Please see below a list of frequently asked questions regarding our new Bristol Zoo proposal.

Why are you moving Bristol Zoo from Clifton to the Wild Place Project site?

To safeguard the future of Bristol Zoological Society we are planning to relocate Bristol Zoo to the Wild Place Project site to create a world-class zoo for Bristol and the West of England. The new Bristol Zoo will offer spacious, modern facilities, significant growth in our conservation and education work and an innovative and exciting visitor experience.

Our vision for the new Bristol Zoo also provides a unique opportunity to deliver an environmentally-friendly, forward-thinking zoo, that will be a beacon of sustainability, carbon neutral and net positive for nature, all the while promoting good health and wellbeing. The Zoo will work with the communities of Bristol, continuing existing conversations and starting new ones, influencing policy and decision-makers to ensure a sustainable future for wildlife and people.

Our new Strategy to 2035 can be downloaded here as a pdf or you can view our Strategy here online in an accessible format.

What will the new Bristol Zoo be like?

The new Bristol Zoo will be an inspiring, immersive wildlife experience with conservation and sustainability at its heart. A place where animals will have the space and facilities to thrive. New exhibits will link visitors to our conservation projects around the world and provide the tools for visitors to become conservationists themselves.

What about the legacy of Bristol Zoo Gardens? Many people have fond memories and it will be missed by everyone.

We realise the significance of this decision and we recognise that many people have very special memories of Bristol Zoo Gardens. But a lot has changed and many of the animals associated with these memories are no longer at Bristol Zoo Gardens, for very valid reasons. We know there is an enormous amount of civic pride in our institution. We will embrace this sense of pride and invite people to join the conversation to help shape the new Bristol Zoo. We want to create a world-class zoo that sets the standard for a modern, forward-looking zoo in the 21st century – something we will all be proud of and where new memories can be made for generations to come. This new plan creates an exciting new chapter for Bristol Zoo and we are confident and full of anticipation for what the future holds.

Will you be investing in facilities for visitors at the new Bristol Zoo?

The new Bristol Zoo will be world class. In Phase 1 of our plans we will create a new entrance building, which will include a new café and shop. We will be investing in the site and making the visit accessible to all, from wheelchair users to visitors with special needs.

How much will the new Bristol Zoo cost?

Over the course of the next 20 years, we plan to invest £48m into capital development of the new Bristol Zoo. This will be completed in phases, with the first phase estimated for completion in 2024.

What will happen to the animals that are currently at Bristol Zoo Gardens?

The animals will either move to the new Bristol Zoo or be rehomed to other zoos and aquariums, through a planned and phased process over three years.

What animals will there be at the new Bristol Zoo?

We are developing an animal species plan that maximises the impact we can make to the conservation of wildlife. We will also be reaching out to our visitors, members and friends to join the conversation and suggest animals they would like to see.

What about Alfred? Will there be gorillas at the new Bristol Zoo?

The western lowland gorillas at Bristol Zoo Gardens will move to the new Bristol Zoo. We are a significant contributor to the conservation breeding programme of this species. Alfred, the zoo’s most famous resident will be remembered as part of the exhibition in the new ‘Clifton Conservation Hub’ in the zoo’s iconic main entrance building to ensure the heritage and story of the Clifton site will continue to be told.

Bristol Zoo Gardens is iconic to Bristol, so why invest in South Gloucestershire?

We need to look beyond local authority boundaries to achieve our conservation mission and to offer the people of Bristol and the West of England, a world-class zoo which delivers on our conservation, sustainability, education and outreach ambitions to help address the climate and ecological emergencies facing us all. Our proposal has the full support of the leaders of both local authorities.

How many visitors do you expect to get at the new Bristol Zoo?

We anticipate significantly growing our visitor numbers in the future. Our ambition is to become a world-class zoo for Bristol and the West of England.

How will the traffic at Cribbs Causeway cope?

As part of the first phase of the development of the new Bristol Zoo, we will work with experts including Highways England to ensure transport impacts are fully considered.

How will visitors with no cars get to Wild Place Project? Will there be buses to the new Bristol Zoo?

It is important to us as a conservation charity that we are able to offer sustainable transport solutions for our visitors. As part of this, and to ensure that those without cars can visit the new Bristol Zoo, we will work with public transport providers to develop practical solutions. We are in the early stages of planning for the new Bristol Zoo, but there are already plans in place to improve public transport near J17 of the M5 motorway (linked to the YTL Arena Bristol development) and we will ensure that there are viable transport solutions for visitors to the new Bristol Zoo.

When will the new Bristol Zoo be finished?

We plan to complete Phase 1 by 2024. This initial phase will see a new entrance building, shop and café, improved car parking and improved access to the site. It will also include state-of-the-art Conservation Learning and Medicine facilities as well as a major new animal exhibit. We will continue to invest on the site in staged phases in subsequent years.

Why change the name of Wild Place Project to Bristol Zoo? Why don’t you just name it Wild Place and keep Bristol Zoological Society as a separate entity?

Bristol Zoo has a 185-year heritage, it is well known and respected within the city, the region, nationally and internationally – not only as a visitor attraction, but for our animal care, veterinary and conservation work. Although we will be selling the Clifton site, it is important that Bristol Zoo continues and can continue its important work.

Will you be involving neighbours and local businesses in the plans for the new Bristol Zoo?

It is extremely important that the Society engages with residents and local businesses nearby.

The Society will be meeting with local residents and businesses as part of the planning application process to better understand their concerns, hopes and suggestions. It is important to the Society that we are a responsible and good neighbour.

Will you be consulting with schools to ensure that you create exciting education sessions?

The Society’s education team will be working with schools to ensure that we meet the needs of schools and students in creating exciting new educational programmes.

When will the move happen?

It is anticipated that the Clifton site would remain open to visitors until late 2022. Wild Place Project will remain open throughout, until it becomes the new Bristol Zoo in 2024.

When will we find out more?

Please check our social media or website for all the latest information or sign up to our newsletter to stay in touch.

If you would like to get in touch with us regarding the plans to safeguard our future, please email us at future@bzsociety.org.uk.

More information on our Strategy to 2035 can be found here.