There's nothing quite like a trip to the zoo and while we've lost the nostalgic icon that was Bristol Zoo, there's still a brilliant spot across the Severn to see beautiful animals and have fun.

The Bristol Zoo Project (formally The Wild Place Project) was opened by the Bristol Zoological Society back in 2013, is a wildlife park that focuses on protecting threatened habitats on our doorsteps and around the globe. Work is about to start at the BZP at Blackhorse Hill in Bristol to develop it into a new conservation zoo with immersive animal habitats.

The zoo protects threatened habitats on our doorstep such as British woodland, and around the globe, including Madagascar, Cameroon and the Congo. At the Project you'll find European brown bears in the Bear Wood, who live side-by-side with European grey wolves, Eurasian lynxes and wolverines. There's the Madagascan village which is home to mongoose lemurs, ring-tailed lemurs, white-belted ruffed lemurs and our Alaotran gentle lemurs.

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There's the Benoue National Park which mimics life in the wilds of Cameroon, Africa and is home to giraffes, cheetahs and zebras. And an exciting new addition is due at the Bristol Zoo Project this spring - a male red panda called Nilo and visitors will be able to see him settle into his new, purpose built habitat. Not only is this new member of the zoo joining, but during spring and summer 2024 there's going to be a brand new trail.

Launching on Saturday, March 23, The We’re Going on a Bear Hunt trail brings to life the award-winning animation, based on the much-loved children’s picture book. It features a series of themed installations, which encourage visitors to follow in the footsteps of the book’s characters, braving the elements and recreating the journey taken by the family at the heart of the story.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt trail at the Bristol Zoo Project

The trail is being launched to coincide with the fifth anniversary this year of the opening of Bristol Zoo Project’s award-winning Bear Wood, where its four European brown bears live alongside wolves, lynxes and wolverines.

It tells the story of British woodland from 8,000 BC to the present day, winding through 7.5 acres of ancient woodland on raised treetop walkways, where visitors can step back in time and watch its inhabitants – all native British species lost over time, now brought back in one spectacular immersive experience.

Tom and Tico giraffes
A four-month-old Lynx kitten explores its home in the Bear Wood exhibit at the Wild Place Project

Other than animal spotting there's loads of other things to keep the family occupied, including multiple outdoor play areas, a giant bird's nest and the Barefoot Trail where kids can feel different habitats underneath their feet. There's the climbing wall and a giant maze. So much to enjoy.

Brown bear time

The Bristol Zoo Project's new phase of redevelopment will see work begin in the spring on the creation of a new Central African Forest habitat which will become home to the zoo’s existing troop of Critically Endangered western lowland gorillas. They’ll be joined by Endangered cherry-crowned mangabeys, Critically Endangered slender-snouted crocodiles, Endangered African grey parrots and several extremely threatened species of West African freshwater fish.

Alongside this, there will be new visitor facilities, adventure play areas and a conservation campus for students, vets, and the breeding of threatened animals. The attraction will remain open throughout the work so, for all the latest on the BZP and to book tickets, click here.

The Bristol Zoological Society's plan for the site stretch to 2035 and at the 136-acre Bristol Zoo Project site they want to create a experience where visitors and animals will be immersed in the natural landscape.

Over the next few years, Bristol Zoological Society will deliver this vision and create an inspiring visitor attraction where around 80% of species will be linked to our conservation work around the world, living in spaces more closely reflecting their natural habitats. The former Bristol Zoo Gardens site in Clifton, which was also owned by the Society, is due to be sold to ensure the society's future.