Animal associations

Bristol Zoo, home of TV favorite Animal Magic, closes after 186 years

Bristol Zoo, home of TV favorite Animal Magic, is due to close after 186 years after the Covid pandemic worsened declines in attendance

  • Bristol Zoo will close in September after 186 years of being open to the public
  • The zoo has welcomed 90 million people and saved 175 species from extinction
  • His animals will go to a new zoo in the Bristol Zoological Society’s Wild Place project










Bristol Zoo has been bringing animal magic to its visitors for 186 years – so successfully, in fact, that it even became the setting for the TV show of the same name.

But now, after welcoming 90 million people and saving 175 species from extinction through its conservation work, it is on the verge of closing down for good.

His animals will go to a new zoo in the Bristol Zoological Society’s Wild Place project near the city after it closes on September 3.

Presenter Johnny Morris played a zookeeper in Animal Magic who talked to animals and gave their answers in imitated voiceovers

Western Lowland Gorilla Hasani at Bristol Zoo Gardens

Western Lowland Gorilla Hasani at Bristol Zoo Gardens

One of the UK’s oldest zoos, it has been open since 1836 and was featured weekly in the BBC’s Animal Magic series, which ran from 1962 to 1983.

Presenter Johnny Morris played the role of a zookeeper who spoke to the animals and gave their responses in imitated voiceovers.

He has a global reputation for conservation – and recently scored a hit with Hasani, a western lowland gorilla born there in August 2020 and hand-raised by keepers.

Keeper John Partridge next to Wendy the Elephant at Bristol Zoo Gardens

Keeper John Partridge next to Wendy the Elephant at Bristol Zoo Gardens

The zoo’s fate was sealed after declining attendance was exacerbated by the pandemic. Parts of the site will become accommodation, but the gardens will remain open to the public.

Dr Justin Morris, the company’s chief executive, said: ‘This is our legacy. They will remain an important destination to visit and enjoy.

Money from the sale will pay for the new Bristol Zoo, which is due to open in 2024.