Bristol Zoo Gardens to host The Zoo and You celebration this May half term

Bristol Zoo Gardens to host The Zoo and You celebration this May half term

Bristol Zoo is inviting the public to celebrate the long, rich and varied history of its iconic visitor attraction, ahead of the closure of the Clifton site in September

On Saturday May 28 and Sunday May 29, visitors are invited to delve through the archives and explore rarely seen historical artefacts from the Zoo’s 185-year history at The Zoo and You, Memory Show and Tell. Most of the collection, featuring old relics, photographs, film footage, signage and records, have not been shown in public for decades.

The special history weekend will also be an opportunity for the public to share their own personal keepsakes, and favourite memories, moments and stories that span generations.

Throughout the weekend a programme of talks will take place to share the history of the iconic site. The talks will reawaken old memories and inform new visitors about the important role Bristol Zoo Gardens has played in the evolution of public zoos and its world-renowned conservation work.

The Memory Show and Tell event is the first in a series of special celebration events, activities and attractions that are being planned for the next few months to mark this closing chapter for the Clifton venue.

Simon Garrett, Head of Public Engagement commented: “This year marks such a significant milestone in Bristol Zoo’s incredible story. As we move towards the closure of the Clifton site, it’s important that we mark and celebrate the 185-year history of this famous attraction, and look to the future of the new Bristol Zoo.

“Within our archive rooms, we’ve uncovered and dusted off treasures and thanks to the help of the team at Bristol Culture, we’re excited to reveal some hidden gems that shine a light on the Zoo’s history.

“We hope seeing these items will bring back fond memories for visitors, who have enjoyed many a day out at the Zoo, and look forward to reminiscing with them during our Memory Show and Tell event.”

Bristol Zoo Gardens is the fifth oldest zoo in the world. Since opening its gates to the public in 1836, it has been home to tens of thousands of animals and earned international acclaim for its conservation breeding programmes.

Over the years, generations of visitors have experienced the magic of this iconic site and been introduced to many, much-loved animals that have lived within the 12-acre landmark.

Among them were Zebi the Asian elephant, who arrived in 1868 and became renowned for removing and eating straw hats. Rajah, who replaced Zebi, gave rides to children for many years. Rosie the elephant was also very popular, and many local people have fond memories of rides on Rosie during the 1940s and 50s. 

Roger, a rare black rhino, was the first black rhino ever born in the UK, in 1958; and the Zoo’s more recent elephants, Wendy and Christina, were known for being taken for walks to Whiteladies Road during the 1960s.

Arguably Bristol Zoo Gardens’ most famous resident was Alfred the gorilla, who lived at the Zoo from 1930 to 1948. He was, at the time, the only gorilla in captivity in the country and was a very popular Bristol citizen. Now his taxidermic form stands in the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery.

As well as running the visitor attraction and its sister site Wild Place Project, Bristol Zoological Society focuses on breeding endangered species, conservation and scientific education, and working to protect wildlife in their natural habitats.

The famous attraction will close to the public on 3 September 2022, before the new Bristol Zoo opens at Wild Place Project in 2024. Throughout that period, Wild Place Project will continue to welcome visitors as usual.

To find out more about Bristol Zoological Society’s future plans visit https://future.bristolzoo.org.uk. 

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