A Day Out at Bristol Zoo

With a week off of work and plenty of time to fill for my long-awaited holiday we decided to spend atleast one day having an adventure outside of Cardiff. I’d heard about Bristol Zoo before and being as I haven’t actually been to a zoo since I was a child I was eager for a visit. So, on a dreary Wednesday morning Rick and I left the house exceptionally early thanks to some roadworks at the bottom of our road and started the travelling to Bristol.

We took the train to Bristol Temple Meads train station and then caught one of the shuttle buses that depart every six minutes to the zoo. The travel was affordable for the amount of ground you cover and we were really impressed by how frequent the buses were to the zoo as well as how easy and tourist-friendly it was to get there without getting lost – a winner for us because we both have virtually no sense of direction between us.

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Because we had prepaid for our entry tickets online we were able to jump the massive queues already going down the street and were in within about five minutes tops. It was already turning into a scorching day and we were starting to regret packing hoodies to wear as it looked like rain that morning but as we started walking around the zoo we realised there was plenty of shade to rest under.

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One of the first animals you can see when you walk into the zoo and follow the trail is the two male asiatic lions. One of them was having a catnap and the other decided he was more interested in pacing the enclosure, maybe trying to to cool off in the sun? I haven’t seen lions up close for years and I didn’t really get a chance to without the zoom lens on my camera. Because it was the summer holidays the zoo was really busy so as long as you didn’t mind waiting your turn around all the young kids being hoisted right up the glass and or nearly getting mowed down by a pushchair you could still see the animals. In some areas there is a lot of room to see but in others it’s a little crowded but as I say, as long as you’re a little patient it’s no big deal.

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Next up were the giant tortoises and reptile house. I used to look after a (non-giant) tortoise for a family friend years ago and loved feeding him strawberries in the summer so the giant versions were amazing to me. Around the side of the enclosure is the breeding room which gave ample opportunity for some nudge-nudge wink-wink moments as well some immature giggling on my part. By the way, have you ever seen a tortoise try and mate with a shoe? You have now.

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We popped by the ring-tailed lemurs and I took loads of pictures of them grooming eachother. These guys were pretty happy to have people watching them and I’m quite sure were posing throughout the whole thing. The two I snapped were so relaxed. Around the side of this area was a part that had been sectioned off for visitors because the zoo have had a new female introduced and they wanted to give her some space to settle in – it was great to see so many visitors respecting these barriers and the zoo itself putting their animals first.

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We went round a walk-through where the crowned lemurs lived and I tell you these guys were really cheeky. At the moment there is a female with two small babies who are just about old enough to stop being carried by her and their older brother and mostly all they did was jump about and poo everywhere. The walk-through was really busy because they’re such a popular attraction and you can tell the keepers know a lot about their animals. Having the chance to get up close these lovely creatures was really something and obviously a great chance for some photos – even if half of them are of pooping in action.

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After the reptile house and bug attractions you naturally veer around to the gorillas. By this time we’d sat down on the grass in the sun and had some pre-packed lunch so were really for the extra walking that this part of the zoo is about and enjoyed the leafy areas around here to watch the gorillas. We didn’t as much time around here because I spent most of it being dared to go on the ZooRopia activity but I was feeling too cheap (and whimpy) to pay extra.

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It took us three loops before we finally got to see the penguins – somehow we got really lost but the crowds had thinned out here so we could spend a lot more of our time looking at the animals but the place smelled so bad of fish. Obviously it’s the right climate for the animals and I don’t think the hot sun helped, hence why most of the penguins were just hanging out on the rocks.

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This seal did not want to have it’s photo taken, the amount of times I tried to get a decent shot and it just wanted to swim around and around the enclosure. I was so hot and sticky by this point I actually wouldn’t have minded joining them in the pool though.

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Did I ever mention how much I love meerkats? I went to training event put on by Canon the other year with work and as a task to test out the new DSLRs in their range the organisers brought out some tamed meerkats and had us take photos of them. I actually had a meerkat settle on my shoulders and start licking my ear and the photo to prove it. They stink but they’re small and timid, they’re my favourite wild animal.

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Nearly at the end of the zoo trail is the butterfly forest and I really recommend you don’t go past it if you’re visiting. You may think, what’s interesting about butterflies when I can go see them in my garden? Well, you need to go into this little forest area and have loads of them come flying at your face and land on you because it’s so cool. I don’t know how the keepers keep a track of them all and know so much about them individually either but we spent more time in here than I thought we would. Also, these little guys were really photogenic and I could’ve spent much longer taking picture of them and messing about with my big girl camera.

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It’s not just about the wildlife at Bristol Zoo, it’s about the gardens too. There’s flowers everywhere and on a day like this one they were out in full bloom. I don’t often take pictures of flowers nor am I that interested in that side of photography but I must say my camera showed it’s worth with some of these close-ups and I was totally impressed when I got home and looked through them.

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Bristol Zoo is built up around some old buildings and structures so there’s always something to take a picture by and I loved the world of water sculpture.

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The zoo puts on many events throughout the year and even though nature and wildlife photography isn’t really my thing, after a day of walking around and taking pictures of the animals living there I’m quite tempted to book into the photography workshop they have planned. If only I had a longer lens!

Have you been to Bristol Zoo? Are you thinking of going? Let me know in the comments.