I have lived in Bristol my whole life, there are many wonderful things to do and places to go; one of my personal favourite places is Bristol Zoo Gardens* I’ve been visiting the zoo for a lot of years, I have memories of going as a child and of taking Lewis and Holly when they were small, as the years have gone by we now take little Rose along on our adventures too.
If it wasn’t for Bristol Zoo, I may not even be here to take my children as my own parents met at the zoo right outside the penguin enclosure! So to say I have fond feelings for the place is actually a bit of an understatement.
Remarkably Bristol Zoo Gardens is the fifth oldest zoo in the world and since opening the gates in 1836 the zoo has welcomed over 90 million guests and helped to save over 175 species from extinction in human care and in the wild.
Bristol Zoo has evolved and changed over the years, new and exotic species of animals have been added. Enclosures have been improved, and the Zoo itself does a lot in terms of important breeding programmes and supporting conservation projects across the globe.
Each year throughout the spring and summer the zoo puts on various exhibits. This year thirteen huge and incredibly life-like animatronic Big Bugs made the Zoo their home, bringing bug-tastic larger than life fun. When I say huge, they really are enormous, Rose was a bit wary of them at first but soon realised they were just pretend. It was great to walk around and spot them all and gave us something extra to do as we dodged the rain in-between enclosures.
We didn’t pick the best day weather wise, in fact it was absolutely pouring down but this didn’t put a damper on our day! There are plenty of animals to see inside the different buildings, the children’s favourite being Bug World for marvelling at the creepy crawlies, and being completely wowed by the size of the most gigantic spider I have ever seen in my life! We really love walking around Seal and Penguin Coast and going in the underwater viewing tunnel. Here there is the opportunity to get some fab photographs of the kids and the look of wonder in their eyes as the seals swim above their heads, is what makes the day so special for me.
We stopped for lunch in the Pelican Restaurant, usually I would pack a picnic and sit on the grass outside but knowing the weather would be awful we decided to buy lunch instead. I would recommend that given the chance you take a packed lunch as the restaurant is fairly expensive and the portions are not generous.
One of the best additions to the zoo in recent years is ZooRopia an adventure ropes course, ZooRopia takes you on an exciting route around the centre of the Zoo, traversing 17 sections themed around tree dwelling animals. This includes a net ramp, a plank bridge, hanging tyres, looped vines, hanging logs, and a balance beam before finishing with a thrilling zip wire onto the Zoo's main lawn. We didn’t get a chance to have a go this time but Lewis and Holly have done it on previous visits and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
My top tips for visiting Bristol Zoo
- Arrive early as parking in the car park outside can be difficult, there is overflow parking but this is often full too.
- Take a packed lunch
- Don’t forget your umbrella
- Buy tickets in advance to avoid the queues
- On arrival make a note of when the animal talks and feeding are so you don’t miss out
- Take some spending money for ZooRopia, face painting and feeding the lorikeets
I made a video of our time at the zoo, I hope you enjoy it and it gives you an idea of just how fab a day out it is there. I would highly recommend you take the time to visit of you live near by or are planning a trip to Bristol.
*We were guests of Bristol Zoo Gardens for the day