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Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Review of 2011 - Part 2

Gorilla statues at Bristol Harbourside
11th July marked the zoos’ 175th birthday, having opened on that date in 1836. In its early days, the Zoo received the gift of a lioness from Queen Victoria, and in 1868 the Maharajah of Mysore sent over Zebi the Asian elephant, which became renowned for removing and eating straw hats! Rajah, who gave rides to children for many years, replaced her.


Bristol Zoo also found international fame in 1934 when Adam, the first chimpanzee to be conceived and born in captivity in Europe, was born. Another well loved character was Alfred the gorilla, who lived at the Zoo from 1930 to 1948. Alfred was, at the time, the only gorilla in captivity in the country and was a very popular Bristol citizen.

Many people also have particularly fond memories of Rosie the elephant, who gave rides to 80,000 children a year throughout the 1940s and 50s; Roger, a black rhino, who was the first rhino ever born in the UK, in 1958; and the Zoo’s more recent elephants, Wendy and Christina who were taken for walks to Whiteladies Road during the 1960s.

Even those who lived too far to visit Bristol Zoo got to know some of its inhabitants as they found fame with Johnny Morris’ popular television series, Animal Magic, broadcast from the Zoo during the 1960s.

For Bristol, July also saw the launch of the Wow! Gorillas campaign, in which 60 fibreglass gorilla sculptures painted by a variety of artists were placed all over the city for the summer. This was a great event, and enormously popular with the local press, as a lot of people made a point of visiting each one to have their photo taken with them.
Greater Flamingos with chicks
August saw the hatching of the ninth flamingo chick of the year. We eventually managed to raise seven to independence, including two that were hand reared by the keepers.

New Stream Garden

September kicked off to a good start with the zoo winning the Bristol in Bloom gold medal. The award reflects the whole Zoo, as the judges not only take in to consideration the landscape, but many other factors such as cleanliness and recycling initiatives.

Judges gave particular credit to the Zoo’s new stream garden area that opened earlier this year. The gardening team made the area as interesting as possible by including a variety of features, including a stream, pond, aviaries, stumpery and a variety of plantings, such as poppies, peonies and roses.

Chills being grown in off-show greenhouse
Over the weekend of the 17th of September there was the chilli and chocolate festival, which proved very popular with visitors. I blogged about this at the time, but the plants display was so popular we extended it for another weekend. The plants we grew were sold off, and we could have sold many more if we had had the growing space.
Baby gorilla Kukena
The two big events though were the birth of a new baby gorilla, a male called Kukena, very well timed for the week before the Wow! Gorillas campaign ended with the retrieval of the gorilla sculptures from round Bristol for a mass display on the lawn for one weekend before their being auctioned for charity. We raised £427,000 eventually, which went to the Bristol Wallace & Gromit appeal and Ape Action Africa, the ape rehabilitation and conservation charity we support in Cameroon (check out their website on the links section)

Earl of Wessex with Gorisambard
In October we had a visit from the new Earl of Wessex, who was presented at the end with a small copy of one of the gorilla sculptures we had made and decorated. This one was in the style of one of Bristol’s most famous sons, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The original Gorisambard sculpture was the highest earner at the auction, fetching £23,000 for the charity funds.

Utila island iguanas
November started with baby Utila island Iguanas going on show. This is the first time we have bred this species, and the youngsters are doing well. When larger, they will go to various collections around Europe.

In November we also collected awards from BIAZA for the “best education project” and “best research project” for the year. The research project award has been given for an in-depth study on the nocturnal northern giant mouse lemur in Sahamalaza National Park, north-western Madagascar.

The education project award was given for the Zoo’s project called ‘All Creatures Great and Small’, which aimed to highlight the importance of biodiversity in celebration of the International Year of Biodiversity in 2010. Commendations were also awarded to Bristol Zoo in three categories – best field conservation project for its white-clawed crayfish project; best education project for its spider phobia courses, and best new zoo enclosure for the zoo’s amphibian breeding facility, the AmphiPod.
Solar panels on roof of veterinary building
In December solar panels were installed on the veterinary and service department building. Heating and lighting enclosures and visitor facilities is one of the zoos’ main running costs, and the panels should cover their costs within seven years. The panels were provided by a company based in Backwell (near Bristol) company Solarsense. The 184-panel 46.92kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system covers an area roughly the size of a tennis court.
Baby Goeldi's marmoset on parent
The last zoo news for 2011 was the birth of another baby Goeldi’s marmoset on 21st December. This is the second baby for the year (marmosets usually have litters around every 6 months) and the fourth for this breeding pair. In the New year I will be doing a series on the various primates we have here at Bristol, so watch this space for more details1

That’s about it for this years’ news from Bristol. I have one more post for 2011, and then I hope to see you again in 2012! Any comments or requests would, as always, be much appreciated.

(images from Bristol zoo website)

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