Citing “mounting anger and concern”, residents are leading a campaign opposing the closure of Bristol Zoo Gardens.
Campaign group Save Bristol Zoo Gardens (SBZG) are planning a protest march from the Victoria Rooms on Queens Road to the former zoo site in Clifton on Sunday, March 12.
Bristol Zoo closed its doors after 186 years on September 3, 2022. The charity that runs the zoo wants to sell the 12-acre site to fund the creation of a new Bristol Zoo at the Wild Place Project in South Gloucestershire.
A planning application to build 196 homes on the site, as well as a public garden, has been submitted by the zoo.
Alastair Sawday, co-founder of SBZG, said: ‘It is unthinkable that this beautiful and iconic place, loved by generations of Bristolians, should be consigned to destruction on the basis of a secret plan and with no public consultation.’
SBZG is angry at a perceived lack of transparency from the zoo trustees, including supposedly refusing to share a report from accountancy firm KPMG which, campaigners say, outlined up to eight viable alternative options for the zoo site, only one of which was sale to developers.
A petition launched by SBZG has nearly 7,400 signatures and a crowdfunder has raised £4,800.
A public meeting hosted by SBZG on February 22 at Christ Church, Clifton, was attended by over 200 members of the public.
The proposed relocation of former zoo animals to Wild Place is also criticised by SBZG.
Tom Jones, co-founder of SBZG, said: ‘According to the unhappy team at the Zoo, only a tiny percentage of the animals will be able to move to The Wild Place in South Gloucestershire – there is no money to build appropriate enclosures and much less land available for them than we have been told. All of the rest have been or will be distributed to other Zoos, IF places can be found. Of the large mammals, only two species will be moved – gorillas and blue-eyed black lemur. There is no plan.’
The future of the zoo site will be debated at meeting of Bristol City Council’s planning committee and campaigners invite members of the public to attend and submit comments on the proposals.