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Wildlife Minister opens new Defra-funded invasive species display at Bristol Zoo Gardens - 26/06/12

The wildlife Minister, Richard Benyon, visited Bristol Zoo today (Monday, June 25) to officially open a new display highlighting the threats of invasive species to UK waterways.

Richard Benyon opens the new invasive species exhibit at Bristol ZooThe new feature includes three tanks in the Zoo’s aquarium, which are home to non-native species that have found their way into British waterways, such as killer shrimp, zebra mussels, marsh frogs as well as top-mouth gudgeon, pumpkinseed and sunbleak fish.

The tanks also houses invasive plant species such as skunk-cabbage, floating pennywort and New Zealand pygmy weed.

Invasive aquatic plants can damage native wildlife that lives in UK ponds and waterways. The new display is part of Bristol Zoo’s involvement in the Defra-led ‘Check, clean, dry’ and ‘Be Plant Wise’ campaigns - which encourage responsible behaviour to prevent the entry and spread of invasive non-native species, for Richard Benyon with invasive zebra mussels example through cleaning of boat hulls and the appropriate disposal of pond plants.

Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries, Richard Benyon, said: “This exciting new exhibit at Bristol Zoo will help to raise awareness and understanding of the serious risks that invasive, non-native species pose to our waterways across the UK.

“It highlights how we can work together to protect native species, and ensure our rivers can remain a safe and enjoyable place to visit.”

Bristol Zoo’s UK Conservation Manager, Jen Nightingale, added: This is the first display of its kind in the UK and a fantastic opportunity to for zoo visitors to experience some of the worst plant and animal invaders that are destroying our British species. We are delighted that Richard Benyon is visiting Bristol Zoo to officially open this new exhibit.”

For more information about Bristol Zoo’s UK native species conservation work, please visit or contact Maddy Ivey by email on   

For more information on the Defra-led ‘Check, clean, dry’ and ‘Be Plant Wise’ campaigns, please visit


Notes to editors

Bristol Zoo Gardens

  • Bristol Zoo is open from 9am every day except Christmas Day. 
  • Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on income from visitors and supporters to continue its important work. 
  • Bristol Zoo is involved with more than 100 co-ordinated breeding programmes for threatened wildlife species. 
  • Itemploys over 150 full and part-time staff to care for the animals and run a successful visitor attraction to support its conservation and education work. 
  • Bristol Zoo supports – through finance and skill sharing - 15 projects in the UK and abroad that conserveand protectsome of the world’s most endangered species.
  • In 2011 Bristol Zoo celebrated its 175th birthday. Over that past 175 years, the Zoo has brought six generations of Bristolians closer to wildlife, helped save over 175 species from extinction, established over 30 field conservation and research programmes all over the world, showed 40 million school-aged children the wonder of nature and given more than 90 million visitors a wonderful day out.
  • In 2010 Bristol Zoo Gardens set up a Conservation Fund to raise vital funds to help care for threatened animals and plants – both in the Zoo and through the conservation work we do in the UK and around the world.
  • Bristol Zoo Gardens is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums. BIAZA represents more than 90 member collections and promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums.

Be Plant Wise Campaign

  • Invasive aquatic plants can damage our ponds, waterways and the environment. Be plant wise and don’t dump aquatic plants in the wild.
  • The Be Plant Wise campaign, launched by Defra,the Scottish Government and Welsh Government, is designed to raise awareness among gardeners, pond owners and retailers of the damage caused by invasive aquatic plants and to encourage the public to dispose of these plants correctly.
  • The Horticultural Trade Association, Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association, Royal Horticultural Society, and wild plant conservation charity Plantlife are all supporting the campaign.
  • For the campaign, resources with advice for gardeners and pond owners have been developed and more information can be found at

Check, Clean Dry Campaign

  • Everyone visiting a water body is responsible for helping to avoid the spread of non-native species on their clothes, equipment and everything else that comes into contact with water.
  • The campaign, launched by Defra, the Scottish Government and Welsh Government is designed to raise awareness among water users such as boaters, canoeists and anglers of the risks invasive non-native species pose and how they can avoid unwittingly spreading this species through good biosecurity.
  • Supported by a broad range of stakeholders, such as Canoe England, British Rowing, the Angling Trust and the Royal Yachting Association.
  • Further information can be found at