Noah's News Blog

Cageless ‘Zootopia’ and Noah’s Ark’s zoo innovations

A Danish architect has draw up designs for an innovative new way of approaching the zoo environment – without cages.

Bjarke Ingels’ ‘Zootopia’ reinvents the zoo by making it a space where humans are hidden from view and animals roam free in mixed habitats.

Zootopia imagines a zoo environment without cages or fences.

Zootopia imagines a zoo environment without cages or fences where human visitors go unnoticed by the animals

The fantastical designs are for a project to expand and redevelop Givskud Zoo.

The 1960s park in Southern Denmark expects to open phase one of the new design in 2019.

Natural borders will be created and visitors will be able to see animals from underground observatories, mirrored cable cars and hidden lookouts in piles of logs.

Here the Danish designs show visitors passing elephants in reflective river pods

Here the Danish designs show visitors passing elephants in reflective river pods, getting quietly close to animals

Redesigning the typical zoo experience is certainly something we worked towards when conceptualising our innovative new elephant habitat.

The £2 million Elephant Eden opened to visitors last year when Buta the African elephant arrived to settle into her new home.

We wanted to offer something new in elephant husbandry at Noah’s Ark and when we look out at Buta enjoying her soft sand yards, mud wallows and acres of fresh, green grass, we know we have.

Elephant Eden offers elephants already living in captivity greater freedom, space and comfort, with various special features allowing them to exhibit their natural wild behaviours.

This includes the scale of the habitat – with 20-acres, Buta has the space to stretch her great legs and mimic wild elephant behaviour.

Eden is a sustainable and enriched environment. Not only the biggest European elephant habitat, Eden has a pool, wallowing mud and winches to elevate feeds above the elephants, encouraging them to reach and stretch to graze, as they would on the savannah.

We’ve also been focusing on spending more Keeper time doing enrichment work with our beautiful animals, from hiding treats for Buta through to running play sessions with our little Lowland Tapirs.


Enrichment is an important part of the management plans for all our animals at Noah’s Ark and gives them a chance to get active and stimulated.

As most of our animals are motivated by food, enrichment activities often involve presenting food in a different way to normal to stimulate natural behaviours – such as stashing treats for our primates in hanging baskets, which encourages climbing and scavenging to get them down!

We regularly keep our Bengal tigers Tiana and Khan on their toes with everything from meat stashed in pumpkins through to fresh wood for them to test their claws on.

The big cats also get to enjoy scent trails, allowing them to explore new smells and put their highly sensitive noses to good use tracking down the trails.

Enrichment takes all forms – so along with smelling out food, we encourage our animals to play using all their senses. Around Christmas time our lions and tigers always love brushing up against the novel texture of the dozens of pine trees we bring into their enclosures!

At Noah’s Ark we pride ourselves on providing a unique experience for our visitors.

One of our special and unusual features is the proximity of play areas to some of our animal enclosures.

Our play areas are scattered around the site, some of which allow the animals to enjoy watching children!

Our play areas are scattered around the site, some of which allow the animals to enjoy watching children!

There are a variety of play areas near to some of the big African animal areas, fusing play with an animal visit. The lions and elephants aren’t forced to be close to people, but are given the choice to be if they wish.

They are very comfortable with the set up and their curiosity often gets the better of them, causes them to choose to come over to the nearest public fence – entertaining both animals and visitors!

How about watching bears from a hidden cable car?

How about watching bears from a hidden cable car?

It’s an exciting time to be working in conservation and zoo animal management and we’ll certainly be watching the Danish developments to see how we can continue to make the animal-human experience at Noah’s Ark as mutually beneficial as possible.

We’re open all summer and the rest of the year offering play areas, mazes and of course our fantastic wildlife, for a great family day out in Bristol.

For more information please visit the Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm website or call 01275 852606. You can book your day tickets online today and you’ll get a special 5% off as a thank you!



Reptile Fortnight at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm

Deadly snakes will soon be slithering into Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm to add a bite to our busy summer schedule!

We’re running a two-week long event with educational workshops focusing on some of the world’s most notorious reptiles.


Reptile Fortnight runs at the Wraxall zoo from Monday, August 4 to Saturday, August 16.

The highlight is surely the breath-taking Venomous Snake Shows running in the Ark Arena at 12.30pm and 2pm every day.

Put on by the reptile experts from Bristol’s Reptile Zone, the shows introduce highly dangerous creatures to our visitors in a safe, controlled environment.

Experienced snake handler Pete Blake will lead demonstrations with notorious snakes like Black mambas and Taipans, designed to demonstrate their amazing behaviours and adaptations.

These relaxed and informal demonstrations will offer alternative views of these incredible creatures, as well as teaching visitors about snake biology, venom and its uses in modern medicine.

IMG_8329 king cobra (Large)

Mr Blake will display the snakes from within a see-through Perspex room specially constructed to give both maximum visibility and safety for visitors. Specially trained in handling venomous snakes, Mr Blake is perfectly placed to showcase the very best of these reptiles.

Black mambas have a fearsome reputation. These sub-Saharan African snakes are highly venomous and one of the fastest moving snakes in the world.

Second only to the King cobra in length, Black mambas have toxic, fast-acting venom. Without quick anti-venom treatment, a bite is almost always fatal.

Despite its name, the Black mamba’s back skin colour ranges from olive, brown and grey to khaki.

The King cobra, the world’s longest venomous snake, is found across India and South-east Asia, where it chiefly preys on other snakes.

Also on show will be the venomous Taipan snake, which hails from Australia, and the Diamondback rattlesnake. This American native pit viper is often feared but usually tries to avoid human contact and only attacks in defence.

These daily shows are free for all day ticket visitors to Noah’s Ark, making the coming weeks a great time for a family day out in Bristol!

There will also be a chance to meet and have your photograph taken with some of the reptiles – just the friendly non-venomous ones! These include the Mississippi alligator, Panther chameleon and Burmese python.

Visitors will be able to handle and make lasting memories by having their photo taken with the reptiles (at a £5 charge).

This will be the ninth year we have run the event, which is going from strength to strength and always proves popular with visitors.

Mangrove Snake_Reptile Fortnight

Reptile Fortnight is a good time to visit the reptiles who live here on the Ark. We’ve got beautiful Royal pythons, as well as Nile crocodiles, Crocodile monitor lizards, Green iguanas and Bearded dragons.

As well as the exciting reptile events, we’ve got lots of other fun on offer during the summer holidays. Staff and small animals will be visiting Ashton Court for this year’s Bristol Balloon Fiesta on the weekend of August 9 and 10, giving visitors a chance to meet our animals and find out more about Noah’s Ark.

You can book your Noah’s Ark summer visit tickets online, where you’ll be given a bonus 5% off your entrance and guarantee your place on the Ark.

For more information about Reptile Fortnight or any of our animals, please visit the Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm website or call 01275 852606.


Elephant Day at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm

Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm will be joining campaigners around the world to fight for greater conservation of elephants.

World Elephant Day takes place on Tuesday, August 12 and seeks to educate people about elephant conservation, both in the wild and in captivity.

Launched two years ago, the event focuses attention on the urgent plight of both African elephants, like Buta at Noah’s Ark, and Asian elephants.


These iconic animals are synonymous with the wild and feature across popular culture. But we’re running out of time to save these species, who are living life truly on the brink.

Elephant populations are facing numerous threats, most of which come from humans.

Poaching, habitat loss and global conflicts are just some of the threats to both African and Asian elephants. Much greater resources are needed to offer true protection for wild populations and more effective enforcement against the illegal ivory trade which maintains the levels of poaching.

We set up Elephant Eden to offer something new in elephant management in captivity. The idea is to offer elephants already living in captivity greater freedom, space and comfort replicating their natural surroundings.

The £2 million project got off its feet last year and our first elephant, Buta, moved in. The former Liverpool resident has settled in a treat, enjoying the soft sand yards, large grass fields, splash pool and wallowing mud, hot showers and raised feeding nets to encourage stretching and foraging.

Buta pool A_NAZF

World Elephant Day also asks people to experience these mighty creatures in non-exploitative and sustainable environments – just like our 20 acre enriched elephant environment at Noah’s Ark.

On World Elephant Day it is going to be all about Buta and her fellow elephants.

We’re currently editing a special film about Buta and her new life at Noah’s Ark, including behind-the-scenes insights from her keepers. The first screening of the film will take place on Elephant Day at 12.30pm in the Elephant House – where visitors will also have the chance to meet the keepers.

There will be a stand running with all kinds of elephant-themed things on offer – from a footprint of Buta on canvas through to elephant memorabilia and our elephant adoptions. Our animal adoptions are popular gifts and include a ticket to come to Noah’s Ark and visit your chosen adoptee!

We’ll also be launching our first ever Elephant Keeper Experience, in line with our popular existing experiences, so watch this space!

Visitors can also enter a competition guessing how much Buta weighs in kg. We’ll weigh her at the end of the day and see who guessed the closest!


In the run-up to World Elephant Day, we’ll be running a competition on Facebook for children aged four to 16-years-old. They can win the chance to put up some enrichment activities for Buta to explore as part of a free day at the zoo. Once of these tasks will be to make a browse branch for her, and the other will be to hide treats in the sand for her.

Make sure you like our Noah’s Ark Facebook page to keep up to date on this and future competitions.

You can book your tickets for Elephant Day online ahead of time – and you’ll also receive 5% off your entrance price.

For more information please visit the Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm website or call 01275 852606.