• bloodletting;
  • captive breeding;
  • clinical value;
  • educational display;
  • invertebrate conservation;
  • medicinal leech;
  • Princess Caraboo;
  • Victorians

This paper provides information on the culture of the Medicinal leech Hirudo medicinalis, including housing and environmental requirements, husbandry protocols and captive breeding. The conservation status of the Medicinal leech and issues surrounding its preservation, and also uses for this species in medicine and as an educational-display subject, are discussed. This species has been maintained at Bristol Zoo Gardens, UK, from May 1996 to the present and has been bred successfully since 2001. The Medicinal leeches that are used in both the husbandry trials and educational display at Bristol Zoo Gardens originated from Turkish stock and were obtained from Biopharm UK Ltd, Dyfed, UK.