Precious but prickly, our collection of cacti at the zoo is huge! They’re mesmerising not just because of their interesting, often intimidating looking needles, but many also bloom big, beautiful flowers.

We’re officially listed as the home of National Collections for three different species of cacti (Copiapoa, Matucana and Turbinicarpus ), which we’re really proud of!

Originating from hot, hot, hot climates like Chile, Peru and Mexico our zoo greenhouses are kept at a toasty temperature to keep the cacti warm and snug, especially during winter.

Cacti grow needles to protect themselves in the wild from losing all their water to other thirsty animals, but without the help of some species the cacti wouldn’t be able to survive itself. Mice, woodpeckers and long-nosed bats are able to dodge the spikes on the cactus to get food and water, but in exchange carry the plant’s pollen helping them to reproduce. A great example of how plants and animals work together to survive.

Over the years our horticulturists have become skilled at growing these tricky plants, safeguarding the future of the species.

With over 1,500 individual cacti to look after at the zoo, our lead horticulturist Jo Adderley tells us more about the care taken to look after these spiky specimens and why we keep them.