The fifth oldest zoo in the world is closing its doors for good this weekend, after almost 200 years.
Bristol Zoo Gardens opened back in 1836 and has welcomed more than 90 million visitors over the past 186 years - but now it’s set to close down due to the impact of Covid-19 and lockdowns.
Bristol Zoological Society, the charity which owns and operates the zoo, says it has been forced to sell the zoo because of drop off in visitors during the pandemic.
Naturally, with such a long history, the zoo has housed tens of thousands of animals, including several famous animal residents, such as Roger, the first black rhino born in the UK, and Alfred the gorilla, who lived there from 1930 to 1948 and was the longest surviving gorilla in captivity anywhere in the world at the time.
The zoo has also received international acclaim for its conservation breeding programmes.
Simon Garrett, head of public engagement, said: “These last few days will mark a moment in the city’s history.
“Bristol Zoo Gardens has been a staple part of Bristol life for 186 years and recognised globally.
“Thousands of families will have memories dating back decades. For many, the zoo has been a significant part of their life.
“This week marks the end of a momentous chapter. In recognition of that, we want to give as many people as possible the chance to say their goodbyes before the gates close.”
Bristol Zoological Society will use the money from the sale to open a new attraction at its Wild Place Project site.
The new zoo is expected to open in 2024 and the old gardens will be turned into sustainable homes.
In the meantime, some animals - including the gorillas and red pandas - will stay at the old zoo until their new homes are built.
Jo Judge, of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums, said education and conservation were at the heart of zoos and their work.
She said: "A modern zoo has to be first and foremost a conservation organisation.
"Modern zoos do a huge amount of work both in terms of conservation and research that could not be carried out with animals in the wild."
Its final day is Saturday 3 September, when it will be opening at 9:00am before closing up for good at 5:30pm.