Work is almost complete on a ground breaking new chimpanzee habitat, which Twycross Zoo plans to unveil soon.
Chimpanzee Eden is a £3.5m facility designed to pose the same kind of challenges that wild chimpanzees would face in their daily lives. The 1,160sqm habitat spans three stories, with outdoor climbing frames providing more natural surroundings for the chimpanzees and an immersive jungle experience for visitors.
At 11m high, the semi-translucent habitat will feature lush, tropical and native shrubs, with glazing and discreet openings allowing visitors to see chimps close up as they pass through the habitat. Guests can peer over the glass-free walls and watch in amazement as the chimps thunder over the crowds in see-through tunnels to head outside.
Dr Sharon Redrobe, CEO at Twycross Zoo says: “Twycross Zoo has housed chimpanzees since our inception in 1963. Back then, many of the chimpanzees were socially naïve, having been hand-reared and maintained in very small social units. Our dedicated team has since spent several years ‘re wilding’ the chimps into larger social groups through award-winning introduction programmes, where the chimps had to learn how to interact with more individuals in a more complex social context.
It has always been a long-term aim for us to house all our chimps in one place, as we want our animals to be living and behaving as closely to how they would in the wild. We place a strong emphasis on creating naturalistic habitats for our animals to live in and Chimpanzee Eden has been designed with this in mind; providing a larger, more complex space for our chimps to interact together.”
Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire collaborated with The University of Birmingham who helped design tools and cognition pods within Chimpanzee Eden, an area where the chimps can participate in puzzles, allowing visitors and scientists to learn about the cognitive abilities of our closest living relatives.
“As a research-led charity, we hope to make a real difference to the quality of life for our chimpanzees by incorporating several recommended components into Chimpanzee Eden” continues Sharon. “The new habitat will allow the chimps to climb really high and move on dynamic structures that behave flexibly, similar to the branches and vines in forest canopies in their natural environment. This is vital for our conservation efforts and education programmes since chimpanzees move differently in static and dynamic environments and ensuring that they remain strong and quick-witted is a necessity for animal welfare. At the heart of our ambitious development plans lies a passionate commitment to the fundamental importance of environmental education and practical wildlife conservation, which is shared by the whole team at Twycross Zoo.”
For more information on visiting Twycross Zoo go to www.twycrosszoo.org