I first went to Bristol Zoo whilst at boarding school in the late 1980's and always wondered what it was like in the 21st century. Furthermore, would it be worth the 250 mile round trip from my home in Gosport, Hampshire? I am happy to say yes and having consulted other reviews here on TA we were able to plan our trip more effectively. After a 2.5 hour drive up the A34 and along the M4 we arrived at the car park with our £3 ready having not been able to find a disabled space (my missus is a Blue Badge holder) due to serious congestion on the surrounding streets. The gentleman collecting the money much to our surprise, waived the charge and told us exactly where to park. Gold star for you sir, much appreciated and unexpected. But as warned in other reviews parking is limited so you may have no other option to park in the official car park but at least it is secure parking with plentiful CCTV. Once inside the park was beautiful with the animals mainly looking settled and happy. The lions were the exception as they were asleep by the glass screen. Other zoos have more space and arguably better facilities (Isle of Wight, Marwell, Longleat spring to mind) but there was no disputing the lions were well looked after and loved, but they just lack space and some stimulus. The Gorilla Island feature is amazing and the seals and penguins were another favourite. We followed Trip Advisor advice and took our own food and we sat on the green in the centre of the gardens and enjoyed the weather and atmosphere. Just as well as the restaurant was visibly busy and overpriced and we heard more than one complaint from dissatisfied customers. A really good diverse collection of animals in a lovely garden setting but what this zoo suffers from is a lack of SPACE. It definitely has a character all of its own with the buildings full of charm and character, but I can see future development being hampered as it cannot expand due to colleges, residential properties etc. surrounding it. However it is still very, very good and worth a visit. It is easily accessible from both the M4 and M5. We have visited pretty well all of the major zoos in Southern England and on character alone this would be the best. But it is so sad that the animals that need more room just cant have it unless the zoo finds a solution to the chronic lack of space it has. But don't let it put you off, it's still definitely worth a go.
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