Bristol Zoo forms part of many Bristolians’ childhood memories. Some people will fondly remember watching Wendy the elephant stroll round the iconic gardens. Some may even remember seeing Wendy’s predecessor Rosie, or even Alfred the gorilla who delighted soldiers during WW2.
Opened in 1836, Bristol Zoo was founded at a time when people had a huge curiosity in animal science, but very little understanding of conservation. Today’s world is very different to then, and we now balance our inquisitive nature alongside the importance of animal welfare and the protection of endangered species.
Evolving with the times often includes making difficult decisions, and I commend Bristol Zoo for tackling this challenge head-on. Faced with continued financial strain, there really were only two choices; close for good, or take the bold decision to move to a more sustainable location with improved facilities for the animals and a better offer for visitors. I’m really thankful they chose the latter, and that future generations will be able to continue to locally learn about conservation.
The move also presents Bristol with a unique opportunity to develop homes on the site, and I am reassured about the Zoo’s commitment not only to working with the council, but also ensuring that any potential developer understands the need to retain and protect the gardens, only builds where buildings have stood, and includes affordable housing on the site – something which is hard to come by in Clifton.
At the moment, the majority of visitors to the zoo travel by car, bringing traffic straight through the city centre and posing difficulties with parking. We will work closely with the zoo, transport operators, and South Gloucestershire Council to find sustainable transport options for visitors to the new Bristol Zoo once it relocates and opens at the Wild Place Project site.
I myself look forward to visiting the new Bristol Zoo with my family for many years to come, and thank the zoo for its continued commitment to doing the very best for the city, and the animals we all love.