Bristol Zoo: Closure date announced as attraction leaves the city after 186 years

It’s one of the oldest zoos in the UK, but is bowing out of Bristol after almost 200 years

Bristol Zoo has revealed the date it will officially close later this year, bringing its 186-year-old presence in the city to an end.

The attraction first opened its gates in Clifton in 1836, making it one of the oldest zoos in the UK, and has since welcomed more than 90 million visitors.

Bristol Zoo is pictured back in the day,

But this week it announced it will close to the public on Saturday, September 3, before setting about the gruelling task of relocating hundreds of animals to the Bristol Zoological Society’s Wild Place Project in South Gloucestershire.

The Society, who own and operate the zoo, announced the ‘big move’ in 2020 and is currently in the process of selling the 12-acre site with planning permission for housing which would form an added income-source for the new Bristol Zoo at Wild Place.

Under the project, parts of Bristol Zoo Gardens will also open to the public for free, much-loved buildings such as the Monkey Temple will be retained and the zoo’s iconic entrance will become the Clifton Conservation Hub.

Over the years, the zoo has helped to save 175 species of animal from extinction.

Our World Bristol launched a counter-attack on these plans last year and want to create a ‘virtual reality zoo’ at the site, but the Society has insisted its strategy the best way to safeguard the zoo’s future for generations amid declining visitor numbers.

The zoo is planning a series of celebration events ahead of its closure, including days when visitors will be able to share their memories of the zoo and wander around its award-winning grounds.

An animatronic Tyranosaurus ‘T Rex’ is put into position as a host of new species arrive at Bristol Zoo as preparations get underway for the Zoo’s dinosaur exhibition.

Some may remember Bristol Zoo being featured heavily in Animal Magic, a BBC children’s television series which ran from 1962 to 1983, presented by Jonny Morris.

Bristol Zoological Society Chief Executive Dr Justin Morris said: “Bristol Zoo Gardens is a special place for so many people and we want to give them a chance to come, to see our animals and the gardens and to talk about their memories.

Aerial image of Bristol Zoo, Clifton.

“This is our legacy. Our way of guaranteeing that people throughout the Bristol area will still be able to enjoy the gardens for generations to come.

“They will remain an important destination for people to visit and enjoy.”

Afia, a six month old Gorilla at Bristol Zoo plays with her keeper Joanne Rudd.

The ‘new’ zoo will open at the Wild Place Project, which will continue to welcome visitors as usual, in 2024.

To find out more about Bristol Zoological Society’s Strategy to 2035, visit and for the latest updates on events at Bristol Zoo Gardens go to