One of the UK’s oldest zoos is set to say goodbye to the public after first welcoming visitors 186 years ago.
Bristol Zoo Gardens will close its doors for good on 3 September, with the remaining animals set to move to the Wild Place Project - a wildlife park located in south Gloucestershire.
Since it first opened back in 1836, the beloved zoo has received an estimated 90 million visitors, as well as saving 175 species from extinction through its conservation programmes.
Sadly, the zoo was struggling with declining visitor numbers prior to the pandemic, as the organisation reportedly made an operating loss in four out of the past six years.
However, the zoo took a further hit to its revenue following the second national lockdown in England, so the Bristol Zoological Society had no choice but to announce the zoo’s retirement.
A selection of the zoo's rarest animals most in need of conservation action will join the animals at Wild Place.
The society has organised a number of events before the closing date so visitors are able to band together to celebrate their memories of the historic site.
Dr Justin Morris, the society's chief executive, 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.”
The gardens will remain open to visitors even after the zoo itself shuts, as other parts of the site are set to be developed into housing.
The children’s play area and theatre building will also stay open in order to offer community spaces for workshops and events.
As well, the famous monkey temple will be left standing, while the zoo's entrance will be transformed into the Clifton Conservation Hub, hosting the Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project.
Dr Morris continued: “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.”
The money from the sale of the site will be used to pay for the new Bristol Zoo, which is due to open in 2024.