Bristol Zoo Project Central African Forest secures planning approval

Central African Forest habitat at Bristol Zoo Project | Image Credit Grant Associates/Blackpoint Design

Grant Associates and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios have worked with conservation and education charity Bristol Zoological Society to secure planning approval for the new Central African Forest habitat at its Bristol Zoo Project site, to home some of the world’s most critically endangered species.

Western lowland gorillas and cherry-crowned mangabeys are to live together for the first time in a UK zoo, as part of ambitious plans to conserve and protect some of the world’s most threatened species.

Work will begin this spring and see the zoo’s existing gorilla troop joined by a new group of mangabeys, as well as Critically Endangered slender-snouted crocodiles, Endangered African grey parrots, and several extremely threatened species of West African freshwater fish.

Central African Forest habitat at Bristol Zoo Project | Image Credit Grant Associates/Blackpoint Design

To mark this milestone, the Society released new CGI film clips, which give visitors an exciting glimpse of how the new habitat will look when it opens next year.

The gorillas and mangabeys will live in an area four and a half times the size of the gorilla troop’s current home at the former Bristol Zoo Gardens. Central African Forest will make the most of the wooded area of the zoo’s 136-acre site in South Gloucestershire. It has been designed to evoke a sense of the dense forest and landscape of Equatorial Guinea, where the Society runs one of its most significant conservation projects focused on gorillas and other threatened forest species.

Landscape architect Grant Associates has been responsible for leading the design of the overall habitat and siting of viewing spaces. Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios has designed the buildings to blend seamlessly into the landscape and provide rich educational spaces for visitors.

Exterior of new crocodile house within Central African Forest | Image Credit: Grant Associates & Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

“Creating a new home for Bristol Zoo Project’s western lowland gorillas within the mature landscape of the zoo’s site is another highlight in our mission to reconnect people to the natural world. Building on our work with Bristol Zoo and its conservation of blue eyed black lemurs in Madagascar, this new project adds another special and endangered species to the list of biodiversity conservation projects we are working on around the world.”

Andrew Grant, Founder, Grant Associates

We are thrilled to have secured planning permission for this new habitat, which is a major step forward in our vision to create a modern conservation zoo with animals living in spaces more closely reflecting their natural habitats. Creating a new environment such as this helps to raise vital awareness of the risks these species are facing and the efforts we can all take to Save Wildlife Together. Work on the new habitat will begin in the spring and is expected to be complete next year. In the future we will also be building new visitor facilities and a conservation campus for students studying to become conservationists. This is a really exciting time not only for the zoo, but also for our visitors, partners and supporters. Conservation zoos have a critical role to play in working with communities and connecting them with wildlife.Justin Morris, Chief Executive, Bristol Zoological Society

As well as the upcoming works, there are also plans for a Central African Savannah habitat, which will see black rhinos and ostriches join giraffes, zebra, and cheetahs, as well as improvements to the existing Walled Garden, including the creation of new aviaries.

To learn more about Bristol Zoo Project and Bristol Zoological Society’s conservation programmes across the globe, please visit

About Damian Holmes 3288 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at