The Wild Place Project is a wildlife park just north of Bristol that is home to a range of African, Asian and European wildlife in a natural setting that is set up to recreate several distinct ecosystems.
The project is located on the Hollywood Estate on land that was donated to the Bristol Zoological Society in the mid-1960s. It was initially used as a centre for breeding and quarantine for Bristol Zoo and opened to the public in July 2013 as an off-site annexe to allow a more spacious environment for the zoo’s larger wildlife.
What to see at the Wild Place Project
The Wild Place Project has been designed to mimic specific ecosystems with separate areas representing habitats including Cameroun, the Congo, Madagascar and ancient British woodland.
The Bénoué National Park habitat lets you experience the wildlife of Bénoué National Park without having to travel to Cameroun. This area is home to cheetah, eland, giraffes, red river hogs and zebras and it includes multiple viewpoints including a hide where you can look at the animals.
The Discover Madagascar habitat is home to the country’s unique fauna including five different species of lemurs: the Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur, mongoose lemurs, ring-tailed lemurs, red-bellied and white-belted ruffed lemurs.
The Secret Congo ecosystem is home to okapi, which are only found in parts of the Congo and the Gelada Rocks area is home to six gelada baboons.
The park’s Walled Garden area is home to African and Asian birds plus meerkats and Kirk’s dik-diks.
Opened in July 2019, Bear Wood represents a unique environment, depicting the ancient woodland habitat of England in 8,000 BC. This includes wildlife that was common in Britain 10,000 years ago including European brown bears, Eurasian lynxes, European grey wolves and wolverines. It features a 4m (13 ft)-high walkway that takes you 700m (765 yards) through the environment plus a bear and wolf viewing den with floor-to-ceiling windows offering a 180º view of the habitat.
The complex also includes several activities including the Butterfly Maze and an outdoor climbing experience and its location on the Hollywood Estate means that it includes other attractions including Hollywood Tower, a Victorian-era folly in the centre of Tower Meadow.
Visiting the Wild Place Project
The Wild Place Project is located in Easter Compton in South Gloucestershire around 10.5km (6½ miles) north of Bristol city centre. The location off junction 17 of the M5 motorway means that it is easiest to visit if you’re driving, however, you can get here by public transport by taking bus routes 1 or 4 to the Cribbs Causeway Retail Park and then walking the last 15 minutes. Alternatively, bus routes 622, 623 and 625 may get you a little closer to the zoo but these buses run less frequently than routes 1 and 4.
The location on the northern outskirts of Bristol’s suburbs means that there is not a huge amount of things to see in the immediate area, however, there is a large shopping centre nearby (the Mall at Cribbs Causeway) as well as a Premier Inn and a Travelodge hotel nearby and it is 3.2km (2 miles) from Aerospace Bristol. If you’re driving, it is possible to see both the Wild Place Project and Aerospace Bristol during the same day.
Although it is a relatively expensive attraction, it is better value than similar wildlife attractions elsewhere in the UK and it is cheaper if you buy your tickets in advance online. An additional charge applies for the Leap of Faith outdoor climbing experience.
The complex was designed to be as natural as possible and this means that there are a lot of walking trails between the various parts of the park and some of these are unsealed, which can be difficult for some wheelchair users (particularly as these can get muddy after heavy rain).
Due to the risk of cross-infection between animals, it is not possible to bring animals into the park and this even extends to guide dogs.
There are several places to eat and drink inside the Wild Place Project with the largest of these in the charming Guest Village, which also includes a gift shop. The Courtyard Cafe in the Guest Village is the main place to eat inside the complex, however, there are other options for snacks including the Benoué Kiosk by the Giraffe House at the Bénoué National Park area, the Base Camp Pizzeria near the cheetah enclosure and the Marshfield Ice Cream Parlour near Tower Meadow.
It is also possible to stay overnight in purpose-built cabins at Camp Baboon.
Most visitors spend around three hours at the Wild Place Project, however, some people spend up to five hours here.