Hundreds protest over Bristol Zoo closure calling on council to reject housing plans

Hundreds of people marched through the streets of Clifton today (March 12) to protest against the redevelopment plans for Bristol Zoo Gardens.

The 'Save Bristol Zoo' campaign organised the protest, marching from the Clifton Triangle up to the zoo gates.

Plans for more than 200 homes and a public park at the Bristol Zoo Gardens site in Clifton have been submitted to Bristol City Council.

The charity which runs the zoo wants to sell the 12-acre site to fund the creation of a new zoo at the Wild Place Project in South Gloucestershire.

But protestors are angered at the thought of this much-loved site losing its identity by becoming a housing development.

Campaigner Lyndsay Davis said: "Some people are here because they want to have the zoo back, some people are here because they just don't want the luxury housing development.

"Many are here for heritage, conservation and 186 years of history. It's been a fantastic march and really motivating."

Zoo trustees argue that these plans make sense from a financial, conservation and animal welfare point of view.

If the plans are approved then more than 200 new homes will be built on the site. Credit: Bristol Zoological Society

Dr Justin Morris, chief executive of the Bristol Zoological Society, said: "We thought long and hard about our decision to close Bristol Zoo Gardens, assessing different options, as it is so important for the city.

"We've been Clifton residents since 1836 and want to leave a legacy that we can all be proud of. We are confident in the plans we have submitted.

"As well as delivering sustainable, much-needed homes, our proposals will make the gardens free to the public for the first time in the sites' history, with a new park, café, and playground."

Protestors want Bristol City Council to rejects the redevelopment plans

While campaigner Amelia Gilmartin agrees that many of the animals will be better suited in their new homes she said Bristol Zoological Society needs to reconsider the plans.

Amelia said: "They claim that they're going to build some affordable housing as well. But that's going to be estimated 80% of the market price.

"That's still not affordable to key workers, to people who need houses. So taking away an asset to the community like this and replacing it with housing that will not benefit the people of Bristol, is madness to me."

Bristol City Council is due to vote on the plans next month. In the meantime, campaigners will be doing all they can to make zoo bosses listen and force a rethink.