Belfast Zoo was opened in 1934.(makes it 75 years young this year!) The site was built on an area known as Bellevue Gardens which the local council had originally developed (in the early 1900s) to encourage visitors to use then new local tram service.
After a period of decline in the 1960s, the zoo was restored in the mid 1970s. The local Belfast council has since then annually donated substantial funds to run the attraction, making it unique in the UK because it is the only publicly funded zoo.
The Zoo is now visited by nearly 300,000 people every year. (nearly the same as in its very first year!). It is located in the north of the city and covers an area of over 50 acres.
The zoo is home to over 1250 animals and more than 150 different species. It is involved in important conservation work to help endangered species whose numbers are dwindling in the wild.
Amongst these are
. Barbary Lions (now extinct in the wild)
. Western lowland gorillas
. Javan languars
The zoo contains all the childrens (and adults) favourites, such as monkeys, penguins, elephants and giraffes. There is also a children’s petting zoo with ponies, chickens and rabbits.
Recent additions include a giant anteater and a capybara(large semi-aquatic rodent from South America)
Facilities on the site include restaurants, a souvenir shop and children’s playground.
Apparently there are plans to develop a covered rain proof shelter in the near future, so even on a wet day, your visit can still be enjoyed.
The Zoo is open all year round. For further information you can telephone 02890 776277 for the latest prices and opening hours.
A note to visitors: The zoo is laid out over the slope of a hill so be prepared for a good walk, (leave the stillettos at home!) and bring an extra pair of hands if travelling with children. There is a little bus which helps to transport visitors about but it does not run very often and is usually packed when the zoo is busy. The walk to the top is well worth it because as well as being invigorating, it also ensures the visitor a beautiful panaromic view of Belfast city and lough.
Have you been to the Belfast Zoo, send us your comments,tell us about your favourites. Or if you have any questions drop us a line through the about us page.
More Belfast Attractions here