- Published 31/10/2017 It’s looking a lot like Christmas … at Bristol Zoo Gardens
They are snapshots taken at a time when the world was at war and freedom hung precariously in the balance.
These men had witnessed and endured first-hand the horrors of trench warfare that claimed the lives of so many of their comrades.
They had returned home wounded and were invited to Bristol Zoo Gardens which must have seemed like a haven of tranquillity after the traumas of the battlefield.
Many carried the obvious scars of battle. Some were amputees, others had injured arms and hands wrapped in bandages and supported by slings.
But they all bore the mental scars of one of the brutal conflicts in human history.
Their visit to Bristol Zoo was possibly arranged by the Inquiry Bureau, set up to answer enquiries about patients in military hospitals in the South-West and Wales but which later organised such events.
The soldiers would probably have been staying at local institutions or large houses converted to military hospitals, like Ashton Court mansion.
For a few short hours surrounded by the animals and gardens at Bristol Zoo they could leave the memories of those experiences behind them.
They have, of course, long since left us.
But we should always remember them.
There is a giant version of the Inky Imp signed photograph on display at Bristol Zoo Gardens at the spot where it was taken.
Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the Zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.
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