Let’s journey back to Bristol 1835, when Isambard Kingdom Brunel was appointed engineer for the newly established Great Western Railway. On July 22nd, the world’s fifth oldest zoo was born. Inspired by the thirst for knowledge that was sweeping the educated classes, Henry Riley, a physician at the Bristol Royal Infirmary helped form the Bristol, Clifton and West of England Zoological Society of prominent individuals. They gathered with the mission 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.’
The Society purchased 12 acres of land in Clifton and appointed a landscape gardener to design the zoological gardens. The Zoo officially opened in 1836.
Since its opening, Bristol Zoo Gardens has educated millions of school-aged children about the value of nature and has given more than 90 million guests a great day out. Today, it cares for more than 450 species and has helped to save over 175 species from extinction.
Our conservation work focuses on endangered animals, the habitats they live in and the human pressures being applied to both. Here are a few examples of how we save wildlife with your help: