Our Future

Dear Friend
Towards the end of last year we shared some important news about the future of Bristol Zoological Society and Bristol Zoo.

For many years Bristol Zoo Gardens, at only 12 acres in size, has been struggling with fundamental and persistent challenges. Namely an inability to meet the changing needs of the animals within the available space and infrastructure, and declining visitor numbers. The challenges of recent years have had a highly detrimental impact on Bristol Zoological Society’s finances and the Society has made an operating loss in four of the last six years.

The impact of COVID-19 has caused us to radically rethink our plans about the future and how we address the fundamental and persistent challenges that we face. To safeguard the future of Bristol Zoological Society, we are planning to relocate Bristol Zoo to the site of our other zoo, Wild Place Project, to create a world-class zoo for Bristol and the West of England.

On a site of 136 acres the new Bristol Zoo will offer spacious, modern facilities and a significant growth in our conservation and education work. It will be an innovative and exciting visitor experience, focussed on addressing the climate and ecological emergency facing us all.

In order to deliver this exciting new vision and to secure the future of Bristol Zoo, the Bristol Zoo Gardens site will be sold. However, we will retain the iconic main entrance building to become an urban conservation hub. This will enable us to continue working with communities through the conservation and education programmes of our Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project, whilst providing a space in which to tell the long history of Bristol Zoo Gardens.

As part of the first phase of this new strategy, an application for planning permission has been submitted for residential development of Bristol Zoo Garden’s West Car Park on College Road.

The sale of the West Car Park will provide a vital contribution to the funds required to deliver the first phase of the new Bristol Zoo. For more information on the plans for the West Car Park please see our dedicated pages or news page. Bristol Zoo Gardens will continue to welcome visitors into 2022, and Wild Place Project will remain open throughout the development phase until it becomes the new Bristol Zoo in 2024.

We understand that you will have many questions, and we have prepared a video (below), a frequently asked questions page and news release. Over the coming weeks and months, we will be sharing more details and asking people to join us in a conversation to shape a bold new future for Bristol Zoological Society and Bristol Zoo.

We know that the closure of Bristol Zoo Gardens will come as sad news and the Zoo has a special place in the hearts of many people, but we hope that you can understand why we have reached this decision. This plan will ensure that Bristol Zoo continues to exist for generations to come, offering millions more people the opportunity to experience the magic of a new Bristol Zoo.

If you would like to get in touch with us regarding the plans to safeguard our future, please email us at future@bzsociety.org.uk. Please also sign up to our e-newsletters and follow us on social media for news and updates.

Thank you for all your support.

Dr Justin Morris
Chief Executive of Bristol Zoological Society

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