everything you need to know about Bristol Zoo Gardens

Visit Bristol Zoo Gardens’ wide range of animals at one of the world’s oldest zoo’s and learn all about their conservation work too. Our very own luxurious location, Cheddar Woods Resort & Spa is only a 30 minute drive away from Bristol Zoo Gardens, making it the ideal destination to base yourself. The zoo first opened in July 1836 and is actually the fifth oldest in the world, with a rich history of conservation research, having saved over 175 species from extinction. The zoo is also a wonderful day out for all ages and has had more than 90 million visitors since opening!


the history of Bristol Zoo Gardens

Bristol Zoo Gardens is run by the Bristol Zoological Society, a registered conservation and education charity, but back in 1835 it was founded by Henry Riley, a local physician, who helped join together a number of local prominent individuals. They all came together with the same mission in mind:

“to facilitate the observation of habits, form and structure of the animal kingdom, as well as affording rational amusement and recreation to the visitors of the neighbourhood”

With such a long legacy, steeped in education, conservation and fun, there have been a number of key milestones in Bristol Zoo Gardens’ history.

  • A lowland gorilla arrived in the 1930’s. His name was Alfred and he was very popular and learned how to make snowballs. His popularity soared throughout World War II, providing people with joy during a dark time
  • In 1934 Adam was born, and he was the first chimpanzee to be both conceived and born in captivity in Europe
  • During the 80’s and 90’s, the zoo started to develop into the Bristol Zoo Gardens it is today. Several large exhibits opened during this time, including the monkey house, reptile house, the redesigned aquarium and both the wonderful seal and penguin coast exhibits

The zoo is continuing its legacy and is working on a number of research and conservation projects around the world.


animals & attractions

There are endless species to visit during your day out at Bristol Zoo Gardens, all enjoying a unique and natural habitat, lovingly created by the team who care for each of them.

The zoo has been a home to the critically endangered Western Lowland Gorillas since 1930, with the current family headed by the impressive silverback, Jock. The family is completed by Kera, Kukena, Kala and Toni, who was hand raised until she was 8 months old and then reintroduced to the family.

You can visit the lion pride, the black howler monkeys or the very vocal gibbons during your trip. But don’t forget the fascinating dwarf crocodiles, African pancake tortoises, the fascinating lemurs or the huge range of beautiful and exotic birds that all call Bristol Zoo Gardens home.

The attractions at Bristol Zoo Gardens are wonderful, including the fun adventure playground and a super fun splash water zone for the little ones. Or opt for a slower pace and try to find all the colours in the Butterfly Forest.

The popular ZooRopia attraction is a fun adventure course for all ages, you can all take advantage of this absolutely wonderful opportunity to swing alongside the lemurs, gibbons and gorillas.

For a completely unique and wonderful journey, head to the Twilight World exhibit, where night and day will be reversed. Meet some of the most fascinating nocturnal creatures in the world, in beautiful settings from the dark forest with the aye-aye’s and underground with the naked mole rats to the town house, which is home to tiny house mice!


So if you’re looking for a fabulously fun day at Bristol Zoo Gardens is definitely the place to be and being only a 30 minute drive away from Cheddar Woods Resort & Spa, it really is the ideal place to base yourself to explore the area.

Cheddar Woods Resort & Spa offers everything you could want for a getaway, from luxurious lodge style accommodation with large open plan living areas, sumptuous bedding and a selection of hot tub lodges too. Our stunning five star facilities include an indoor heated swimming pool, steam room, sauna and Eden Spa offering Aromatherapy Associates treatments. The whole family will love the Go Active + programme, which includes a large rock climbing wall, waterwalkerz and archery.

There is so much to do at Cheddar Woods you’ll love relaxing for lunch or an evening meal at our Bistro Restaurant, while kicking back with a drink from our fully stocked bar. And if you don’t want to leave? You don’t have to, as Cheddar Woods offers holiday home ownership too, so you could holiday here every weekend!

For more information about holiday home ownership at Cheddar Woods Resort & Spa, call our dedicated team on 01745 858010 or speak to an advisor via our live chat service and book your tour to see our resort today.

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