29/09/2020

New Arrivals at Bristol Zoo Gardens as More Animal Houses Reopen

There are plenty of adorable new arrivals to see at the Zoo!

Our popular Bug World and Reptile House have reopened for the first time since lockdown with a number of new animals that have hatched during the closure. 

They include four blue tree monitor lizards which emerged from eggs just 5cm long and a pancake tortoise the size of a 10p piece. 

The endangered blue tree monitors, which were only discovered in 2001, are part of a European conservation breeding programme overseen by our Senior Reptile Keeper, Adam Davis.

We are the only UK zoo to have successfully bred this species. Adam said: “This is our second breeding success with the species and it is very important because we are trying to ensure a healthy population is maintained in European zoos.” 

The tiny lizards weighed just 13 grams when they hatched and are currently just 27cm long, but two thirds of that is their tails. 

The hatching of a pancake tortoise is also significant because they are critically endangered in the wild due to a loss of habitat and being taken for the international pet trade. 

Two yellow-margined box turtles, measuring just four centimetres’ long, also hatched while the Reptile House was closed.

They too are endangered as, in the wild, large numbers have been exploited for food and are also threatened by habitat loss and collection for the pet trade. 

The tree monitors, pancake tortoise and box turtles are currently being kept in a rearing area in the Reptile House but they will hopefully be on show soon. 

In Bug World keepers successfully bred Polynesian or Partula snails which are extinct in the wild, increasing the global captive population of three of their species by approximately 10 per cent.  

A colony of golden weaver ants that went on display just before lock-down has gone from strength to strength, allowing the invertebrate team to supply a colony to another zoo in the UK. 

Bug World also now has three, fourth generation Lord Howe stick insects. They are part of a conservation breeding programme which began in 2015 to try to save these critically endangered insects. 

The indoor house of Meerkat Lookout has also re-opened giving visitors the chance to see these delightful animals indoors for the first time since lockdown led to the Zoo closing.  

The ‘Rule of Six’ is being observed and other measures put in place to ensure people are safe as they visit the two re-opened houses. A one way route has also been introduced and the houses are being regularly cleaned and hand sanitisers have been placed at the entrances and exits. 

James Kitto, Head of Commercial Operations, said: “We are delighted to re-open both Bug World and the Reptile House as they are so popular with our visitors, especially children. 

“It gives people a chance to see some of our more unusual and exotic animals once again and to learn about our vital conservation work.” 

Bristol Zoological Society, which operates Bristol Zoo Gardens and Wild Place Project, is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work at Wild Place and Bristol Zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.

In March, the Society launched an appeal to ensure the future of its work ‘saving wildlife together’. To find out more, or to make a donation, visit the appeal page.

Visitors to Bristol Zoo are now asked to pre-purchase and members asked to pre-book tickets in advance, online, here.

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