Zoo Appeal in Bristol

By | Category: Travel destinations


This year Bristol Zoo is 175 years old. Apart from celebrations it may also be a useful occasion to think of the changing appeal of the zoo. Originally it was designed to show us animals that most of us were unlikely ever to see. Now as travel is much easier you can take an Arctic cruise to see polar bears, go to Borneo to see orang-utans or to Kenya to see lions and giraffes. So do you still visit zoos?
When Bristol Zoo opened, it was more like a fun park with the animals just one aspect of the visit. There was a croquet area, a boating lake and a bandstand where you could while away a Sunday afternoon. Today animals are to the fore but in larger areas where they can roam. Today it is the scientific research in preserving and learning more about different species that is the draw. In between were those years where people felt guilty about watching caged animals and we queried whether there should be zoos at all.
Probably Gerald Durrell’s Jersey Zoo was the first that I remember where conservation and the understanding of wildlife came to the fore. Now, it is the prime role of zoos around the world. And Bristol has been at the fore of conservation with its work with lowland gorillas and Livingstone’s fruit bats to name just two.
For many of us older generation people, our first links with the zoo were via Johnny Morris’s Animal Magic TV programme as many scenes were shot there. Did we even know what a ring-tailed lemur was until we met Dotty? Things have moved far from those days but popular animals still command the interest when we visit zoos so this year there is a new meerkat enclosure. Animals like Guy the gorilla at London Zoo, Knut the polar bear at Berlin Zoo and Alfred the gorilla and Rosie the elephant at Bristol can be huge attractions. It was said of Knut that attendance at Berlin Zoo went up by a third whilst he was alive. Now Jasmine, an endangered red pandas may be the next star. Sir Ed has just arrived from Wellington Zoo in New Zealand and it is hoped the two will mate and help preserve this species.
Conservation may be the key but new born animals and creatures we take to our hearts are what attracts visitors. Officially Bristol Zoo is 175 on July 11th but five days later it continues its anniversary celebrations with Bristol’s Big Village Fete. On the 16th July the zoo will have music, dance, stalls and fun. Almost back to what it was like all those years ago when it first began.
For more information, click here.

image courtesy of Bristol Zoo

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