Belfast Zoo

Belfast Zoo Antrim Road Belfast BT36 7PN

Belfast Zoo is located on the Cave Hill with splendid views out over Belfast Lough.  The site was originally home to pleasure gardens that were planted to attract visitors to use the tramline service that stopped there in the 1920s and 1930s.  In the early 1930s a small zoological collection was installed in the gardens before the hillside was finally laid out as Bellevue Zoo, sprawling over 12 acres. It opened its gates in 1934 and soon became something of a Belfast institution.  The new site was built in 1974, and now occupies over 55 acres, attracting around 300,000 visitors a year. It's home to over 1200 animals and 140 different species, and there have been a number of landmark events in recent years including the birth of the first Barbary Lion in Ireland at the Zoo in 2007.  In 2009 it celebrated its 75th birthday with the opening of a 'Zoovenir' Shop and a state-of-the-art visitor's centre, and this year it sees its most famous resident, Tina the elephant, celebrate her 50th birthday.  There are regular family events held throughout the year so best to check the website for dates.  It makes for an excellent family day out (there are play parks, picnic areas, cafes and toilets all within the grounds) but be sure to wear flat shoes and be prepared for plenty of hills!  The views are worth it though...

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