Val Baynton from the Discover Animals team was invited to the official launch of Chimpanzee Eden at Twycross Zoo last month, and tells us more about her visit here.
The first five years of a 25-year plan, which will see £55million invested in improving the infrastructure at Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire, has been completed with the successful opening of Chimpanzee Eden. This naturalistic inspired enclosure has seen two families of chimps combined into one family group – currently of 14 chimps – and an impressive home with extensive inside and outside spaces built for them.
Included in the new spaces are purpose made bendy and wobbly structures aimed at imitating a chimp’s natural environment, and which allow the animals to climb up to 11 meters in height, and to leap and swing around.
At the official launch of Chimpanzee Eden in June, I was thrilled to see how the animals appreciated their new home and also to see other newly opened spaces including the lovely Gibbon Forest, home to the biggest group of gibbons in Europe. Like the chimps new home, Chimpanzee Eden, the gibbons have purpose made spaces to explore, both inside and out, with interesting structures to swing from and climb.
I also enjoyed discovering many of the other animals cared for at the zoo including the Amur and Snow leopards. I was amazed to hear the huge voice of the siamang ape, using a throat sac its distinctive call can be heard over two kilometres – definitely not a quiet neighbour!
Twycross Zoo is the only place in the UK that you can see the four great apes – chimpanzee, gorilla, orang utan and the bonobo – and the zoo works closely with many conservation projects including Ape Action Africa.
Groups visiting the zoo can request tailored tours – which can include insight into the Zoo’s important conservation projects as well as behind the scenes visits with animal keepers. Two new animal species – yet to be announced – will arrive at the zoo next year.
For more information on visiting Twycross Zoo go to www.twycrosszoo.org