I had one of the best days last weekend on my adventure to the brilliant Bristol Zoo Gardens. With over 400 species to gawk at in a beautiful 12 acre zoo, it's definitely worth a trip into Clifton for this one. Plus, they're a registered charity, so the admission goes towards their conservation projects - REALLY, then, you might say that you kind of ought to go.
I've been lucky enough to have had the chance to visit this exciting spot both as part of my anthropology course, but also every week as a volunteer. For a special treat, however, on the last weekend of September (which by some stroke of luck was a pretty sunny day) I got to go back to this fantastic place to explore as a proper visitor.
Highlights for me included catching feeding time in the reptile house and watching the Mountain Chicken Frogs leaping after their agile prey (lots and lots of bugs) while a lazy looking boa eyed up a bunch of mice (gross but also weirdly great). Watching the enormous Western Lowland Gorillas (whose scientific name is Gorilla gorilla gorilla which in my opinion is brilliant) pottering around, climbing and running and picking at their food with their forever-surprising dexterity. Jock (the silverback) weighs an incredible 32 stones of pure muscle, and it's crazy to watch him peel the lids off yoghurts and licking the inside (You can catch the Gorilla feeding and talk at 14.30). I loved watching the Fur Seals playing and darting around the water. You can see them from above, practically leaping out of the water whenever they surface for a breath, but even better is popping below to see them swimming upside down and shooting around under the water - perfect spot for a SEALFY hahaha (You can watch these guys being fed and listen to the talk at 15.30).
Another definite highlight was the visit to 'Explorer's Creek' (RIGHT where I belong) home of the Rainbow Lorikeets. For a small fee (I think it costs 70p for a pot) you can feed these crazy dudes some nectar and seriously, if they're feeling greedy, what feels like a whole flock of these fellas'll come and land on you. At one point I had a lorikeet on my shoulder and another on my head. So much fun! And it was gorgeous to watch Larry's reaction as these beautiful birds settled on his arm.
To finish off the day we popped into the butterfly house. A lovely, tranquil end to the day watching the beautiful South American butterflies (including Blue Morphos and Pale Owls which are HUGE) fluttering and floating around. If you stay really still, they'll even stop on your shoulder long enough for you to take a photo.
Although quite an expensive adventure, it was a beautiful day regardless. Bristol Zoo Gardens has a great collection of animals to look at, so if you have a day at your disposal and wildlife and nature is your jam, then a trip to Bristol Zoo is a definite must. Much hilarity will be had and I guarantee you will learn something new and see something that amazes you.
* Admission: £15.95 for adults and £13.90 for students. (If you buy online you can grab yourself 10% off ticket prices, and if you're a uni student there are some societies that you can join including BUVZS which gets you discount entry)
* Opening times: 9.00-17:30 peak times and 09.00-17.00 off-peak (i.e. winter).
* The Cafe is open for lunch between 11:45-14:30, but you can get coffees and little snacks there throughout the day. I can't remember how much a coffee is... Sorry. I've let you down.
* Bring with you: a Picnic, A flask of coffee, Your camera.
* Bristol Zoo Gardens, Clifton, Bristol BS8 3HA