One of Britain's oldest zoos made famous by TV's Johnny Morris is leaving the site it has occupied for 185 years to safeguard its future.

Bristol Zoo has been located in the Clifton area of the city since it opened in 1836 but the land will now be sold.

A decision has been made to move the operation to the Wild Place Project, which sits near to the M5 in South Gloucestershire.

The zoo will stay open at its current 12-acre site until 2022 before relocating and reopening in 2024.

The Wild Place Project is owned by the Bristol Zoological Society, which also owns and operates the zoo.

The zoo was featured heavily in Animal Magic - a BBC children's television series which ran from 1962 to 1983.

Presenter Johnny Morris combined voiceovers applied to various animals from Bristol Zoo with wildlife facts.

Bosses said today (27/11) that the zoo has struggled to combat a decline in visitors - suffering an operational loss in four of the past six years.

The coronavirus pandemic has added to the governing society's problems, forcing the "rethink".

Chief executive Dr Justin Morris said: "This year has been by far the most challenging year the society has faced in its 185-year history.

"But for many years Bristol Zoo Gardens has been struggling with fundamental and persistent challenges.

"Namely an inability to meet the changing needs of the animals within the available space and infrastructure, and declining visitor numbers.

"These challenges have had an enormous impact on our finances and the impact of Covid-19 has caused us to radically rethink our plans about the future.

"This new strategy presents an opportunity to create a world-class zoo that sets the standard for a modern, forward-looking zoo in the 21st century."

In a statement, the zoo said planning permission would be sought process to ensure that the future of the Clifton site is something that the organisation will be proud of.

It added that new housing will be created in areas of the site where there are already built structures, and the existing gardens will be largely unchanged.