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In praise of Bristol Zoo…and colourful gorillas

July 11, 2011

A yellow gorilla greeted me as I went through the ticket barrier at Bristol Temple Meads this morning.  While I was searching for a News of the World on Gloucester Road yesterday morning (the first and last such purchase of my life!) I met another one decked out in Bristol Rovers FC kit.  Gorillas are appearing in key positions all over the city.

This invasion of ceramic simians is part of the 175th birthday celebrations of Bristol’s top tourist attraction, the Zoo or more accurately the Bristol, Clifton and West of England Zoological Society.  Gorilla statues have been painted in a variety of colourful designs or corporate wear.  The intention is to encourage people to go and see the real life versions in Clifton.  I did just that myself a month ago when I met Zoo Director Bryan Carroll and his senior team for an update on the zoo’s development plan.

The gorillas are certainly a favourite of mine but I get most enjoyment from watching the penguins swim around. They’re best seen from the vantage point of the glass underwater tunnel.  The meercats were also a big hit with visiting families.

I’ve been visiting Bristol Zoo since I was a child.  It’s an easy day trip from the South Wales Valleys and it was probably a Sunday School outing from Moriah Baptist Church in Abercynon that I made my first visit to Bristol in the mid 1970s.  I remember the excitement of coming over the Severn Bridge as much as the animals!  This proximity of Bristol to Wales was a factor in choosing the city for my university destination a decade later.

The zoo is not just a tourist attraction.  It does work of international significance in the field of species conservation.  Gorillas are a good example, as their natural habitats in central Africa come under threat from development and poachers. The zoo is also successfully breeding rare Asian lions.

So go and visit Bristol Zoo this year.  It’s the city’s top draw for visitors, heading a list that now includes MShed, the fabulous new museum that tells Bristol’s story.  And while you’re at it go and see Bristol and Clifton cathedrals, the Beryl Cook exhibition at the City Museum and Art Gallery, St Mary Redcliffe church, the @Bristol Science Discovery Centre, the multi-award winning SS Great Britain, the Georgian House, the Red Lodge, St Nicholas Market and the churches nearby, see some modern art at Arnolfini (celebrating its 50th birthday this year) and watch a film at Watershed.  Bristol has so much to offer!

you can find the gorilla locations here:

7 Comments leave one →
  1. jrbearpad permalink
    July 12, 2011 2:35 am

    I go to the Zoo, not only to see the wildlife there, but also to enjoy the magnificent Gardens which are really a great joy, maintained by a very skillful and imaginative team of gardeners.

    The Beryl Cook exhibition is a great belly laugh! this remarkable lady has skillfully produced fine paintings with her tongue firmly planted in one cheek! Hurry to the museum and have a great time chuckling at her work: thoroughly enjoyable.

  2. rosemary permalink
    July 12, 2011 7:44 am

    I too encounterd 3 or 4 gorillas walking back last night and evetually got the message. A pity though that children aren’t allowed to ride on their backs. Some of the best statues in the world have been approved in that way, and at the most impressionable age.

    And a very good supplementary list of uplifting and worthwhile suggestions, Stephen. Thank you. May I also suggest people go to Millennium Square tomorrow evening, plus friends, picnic, and a cushion? BCC, BP, and the BBC will once again be collaborating in the most delightful and convivial way to clean up their images, and we should all make the most of it. It is free.

  3. Simonb permalink
    July 15, 2011 1:20 pm

    It’s far too easy to take places like the zoo for granted when you actually live in Bristol. I have to confess that I have not been there for some years. Bristol does indeed have a huge amount to offer. I have seen many other cities, either travelling for work or leisure, but I have yet to find anywhere else that I would wish to live. You have reminded me that I need to make more of an effort to support the places that actually make this my favourite city!

    • July 15, 2011 10:49 pm

      thanks Simon. I recommend our new M-Shed museum for a good over view of Bristol, including an amazing aerial view of the city that you can walk over on the ground floor, with sufficient detail to pick out your own house.

  4. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    July 16, 2011 6:22 pm

    “Bristol has so much to offer.” Too right! Perhaps you should convey this to Barbara and Simon who painted a real picture of disaster should we not secure the World Cup. Do you think they could have had an alterier motive?

  5. July 18, 2011 7:26 am

    Bristol is fantastic and well worth the visit, my personal favourite destination is the new M Shed, not sure it’s worth the money they spent on the revamp as the old building seemed sufficient. However lots of great stuff there including a Gorilla reference or two…

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