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Bristol Zoo Gardens

What is happening at the former Bristol Zoo Gardens site?

To fund the creation of a new conservation zoo at Bristol Zoo Project, Bristol Zoological Society is selling its Clifton properties. This includes the West Car Park, which is now sold, and the Bristol Zoo Gardens site with planning permission, which was granted by Bristol City Council in April 2023.

The plans for the site, which include building 196 new homes for Bristol (20% affordable), will also provide free public access to the gardens for the first time in 186 years.

The plans will see the park become accessible to the public, with free daytime access. The Grade II listed entrance lodge will be retained by Bristol Zoological Society, providing a café, exhibition space, community rooms and public toilets, as well as a permanent base for the Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project. A nature-inspired playground and theatre are also included – facilities not currently available near the site.

Other plans include 196 high-quality, sustainable homes, located mainly around the perimeter of the site. Homes will range in size to encourage different generations to live there.

Bristol Zoological Society expects to sell the site in the near future. In the interim, the site is still used to teach students and as a base for the Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project.

Why did Bristol Zoo Gardens close?

Closing Bristol Zoo Gardens wasn’t an easy decision, but we do not believe the 12-acre Clifton site is fit for purpose as a modern, conservation focused zoo. With 136 acres at Bristol Zoo Project, we can improve animal welfare, creating larger areas that better reflect the animals’ natural habitats.

We went through a rigorous process to explore a number of options as well as taking independent professional advice from a range of sources to ensure we are taking the best possible course of action to deliver on our mission of Saving Wildlife Together.

Our Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favour of this plan and it has the backing of the Society’s Directors and Chairs of Trustees from the last 20 years, who have helped shape this new vision. The move to one site at Bristol Zoo Project is about prioritising animal welfare and conservation and our vision for what we think a zoo should be.

The future of bristol zoo

Over the next few years, Bristol Zoological Society will create an inspiring visitor attraction where eventually 90 percent of species will be both threatened, and part of targeted conservation programmes.