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“A really enjoyable day trip.”

Bristol Zoo Gardens
Ranked #13 of 211 things to do in Bristol
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: At Bristol Zoo Gardens you can enjoy an amazing world of animals, all within our award-winning 12 acre gardens. With over 400 species and 9 animals houses under cover, you'll enjoy your visit whatever the weather. We suggest you allow 2-5 hours for your visit to really take in everything we have to offer.By visiting Bristol Zoo you will be directly contributing to the conservation of endangered species and habitats.
Reviewed 29 July 2014

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.

Thank GosportJezza
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 27 July 2014

My boyfriend recently surprised me with a visit to Bristol Zoo. It's a place I remember fondly from my childhood, but I've only visited a couple of times recently. We had a really, really lovely day when we visited on the 26th July, which was aided by the warm, sunny weather! I'm not sure whether I would go on a weekend in the summer holidays again though because there were a lot of very young, very loud children, which is only to be expected as it is a lovely attraction for families, but last year I went on a weekday in May and there was a much more peaceful atmosphere then.
The zoo itself is really lovely; it's in a beautiful part of Bristol and the gardens and grounds that the zoo is set out within are equally beautiful. It's not a zoo for 'big animals' such as elephants, giraffes, etc, but I think this is a reasonable choice since the site is so small, it wouldn't be fair to keep such large majestic animals in such a cramped space! The zoo has instead chosen to focus on its gardens, smaller animals, and the importance of conservation, which I think is nice. My one main complaint with the zoo is the lions. They are such beautiful creatures but I don't think I've ever visited Bristol Zoo and seen them looking happy. On my most recent visit they were both asleep right next to the glass of the enclosure, allowing guests a once in a lifetime opportunity to get really close to a lion, but it also meant a lot of annoying tapping on the glass and noise for the poor lions. They could really do with a bigger, more private enclosure, and it made me feel quite sad to see them looking so miserable when they deserve to be in the wild.
However, that really is the only low point of the zoo. The new Gorilla Island was a particular highlight for me - we spent a good half an hour in there and could have easily spent much longer! It allows you to get right up close to a whole family of gorillas, and it is laid out in such a way that you may have gorillas lying down or walking about on a glass ceiling right above your head! I also really love the adorable red pandas and the penguins and seals, although I do think that the underwater section has gotten a bit run down over recent years.
The nocturnal house, reptile house, aquarium and insect house are also really nice additions, and I enjoyed the huge array of monkeys that Bristol Zoo has to offer. Despite there not being many big animals there, the zoo really does have a wide range of different animals and many that you probably haven't even heard of before, which I think makes up for the lack of the more well-known animals.
I found my visit to Bristol Zoo to be really educational too, because they have detailed, descriptive signs for each animal, and I learned a lot about conservation and a whole host of facts to bore my poor boyfriend with!
I do wish we'd chosen to bring a picnic lunch with us, because the zoo has some really lovely open grassy spots that would be perfect for picnics, and instead we had to buy our lunch at the zoo restaurant. The food was nice enough, but it was quite expensive and there was a limited choice. It was also a shame that the vending machines weren't working because an ice cream would have been lovely on such a warm day!
Despite Bristol Zoo seeming a little run down and not quite as majestic as I remember it being when I was younger, it's still a really lovely, fun day out for couples, friends and families. The majority of the animals seemed content and had spacious enclosures, and the zoo places such a large emphasis on conservation and animal welfare that I can hardly fault the quality of animal care. Just remember to bring a picnic!

1  Thank Isabelle H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 July 2014 via mobile

I remember when the first white tigers arrived here in captivity in the 60's and just loved to look at their majesty and beauty. Quite a site to visit on the several times I have been there. There is quite a changing environment. Parking used to be free but unfortunately the ways to get you to empty your pockets are increasing. Wish they would go back to the old way of free parking but I suppose maintenance costs keep increasing.
Good visit and would recommend it especially for the children. Nowadays I prefer the open look and you drive through to view the animals in a natural setting.
Enjoy.

1  Thank MartinR4961
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 July 2014 via mobile

Went here with my 6 yr old autistic son. After some bad feedback. Thought I'd find out for myself. And had a brilliant day out. Loads to keep us entertained. Although food is expensive there are plenty of picnic spots. Definitely will return

1  Thank Rachael W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 July 2014

we disappointed with the zoo, haven't been for many years, and thought we would call in on our way home from somerset, but for the price we paid, there is not a lot in there, and some of the animals don't look very happy in their enviroment

Thank jaybri1622
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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