On Sunday we packed up the car and headed to Bristol Zoo Gardens for the day as part of E's birthday celebrations (because as I mentioned before, I don't do kids parties when I can avoid doing so and would rather spend the money on a family day out). It cost us less than £50 for the tickets for all seven of us as we purchased them online in advance, and an additional £3 to park. We didn't arrive until lunchtime after some initial poor planning & general faffing about in the morning, but we got there eventually and luckily - although overcast with a bit of a chill in the breeze - the weather was in our favour. My sister L joined us, along with her partner R & daughter C.
BZG is a really lovely family day out. The website says "At Bristol Zoo Gardens you can enjoy an amazing world of animals, and from 23 March until 8 September, dinosaurs, all within our award-winning 12 acre gardens. With over 400 species and nine animals houses under cover, it's one of the best days out in Bristol whatever the weather" and I would have to agree, all of the children (ages 15, 14, 12, 9, 7 and 3) were entertained for the entire afternoon and we didn't have one single instance of whining - which is no mean feat!
The kids really enjoyed seeing the two lion cubs - Kamran and Ketan - playing and running around, and at certain times throughout the day you are able to watch the keepers feeding and giving talks about the animals in their houses. The kids loved watching the South American fur seal talk, L was particularly impressed by how clever and well trained they are.
There is a big open green in the middle of the zoo, perfect for sitting to enjoy a picnic and also where the terrace theatre is located. There is a big adventure playground as well as many activities around the zoo that the kids can try out, such as measuring your 'wing span', timing how long you are able to hold your breath and even sitting inside an 'egg' (see my little hatchlings below). Right now you can also follow the Dino trail and see the lifesize animatronic dinosaurs which were a big hit with my kids.
I would highly recommend taking your own picnic (which we did) as, in my opinion, the cafe is a little overpriced although I have found that that does tend to be the case for most days out. My one real complaint would be the state of the toilets, which were rather grim and smelled awful. On the other hand, the rest of the zoo is very well maintained with beautiful gardens and the animals are clearly well cared for.
It is nice to see the refurbishments going on and we will definitely visit again sometime to see the new Gorilla enclosure when it is complete. I think it is worth the entrance fee taking in to consideration that it is a charity and relies on donations to continue its conservation work. There are also other activities within the zoo that are charged separately (face painting, ropes course etc) so it is worth thinking about that when planning your day out.
E thoroughly enjoyed her birthday trip to BZG as did the big kids (and the grown ups!), and we have some lovely memories of our day out together.
I've linked up this post with Mich's Reasons to be Cheerful, what are your #R2BC this week?