Four national excellence awards for Twycross Zoo
Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire is celebrating after winning four top national zoo awards for its outstanding work and achievements at a special ceremony on Wednesday. The annual award ceremony, run by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), highlights the extraordinary achievements made by the zoo community, from wildlife conservation to horticulture, and was held at Marwell Wildlife in Hampshire on Wednesday 8 June 2016. Twycross Zoo received two silver and two bronze awards in the Education and Animal Breeding, Care and Welfare categories.
Sharon Redrobe, CEO at Twycross Zoo says, “The BIAZA Awards are the Oscars for us in the zoo community and it is an honour to be recognised for our continuous efforts in wildlife conservation and dedication to the welfare of the animals in our care. I am delighted for all the staff, from the executive team to the animal keepers, who are so passionate about our cause and work extremely hard to make Twycross Zoo a world-class attraction that is committed to wildlife conservation.”
Twycross Zoo was commended with a silver award in recognition of its exceptional work in training four groups of gibbons to aid their move to the new £2million Gibbon Forest habitat. The gibbons were trained through positive reinforcement to enter their transport crates voluntarily, ensuring the keepers would be able to move the animals in a stress-free and safe manner for all involved. As a result of the hundreds of training sessions, the keepers were able to move all 15 individuals to their new home, with all animals voluntarily moving into transport boxes at the request of their trainers.
The second silver award particularly highlights the Zoo’s effective use of the data management system, the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS). In 2012 when the software was launched, Twycross Zoo trained its entire animal-keeping staff to enter their own daily observations into the database and provided other departments, such as education and marketing, with read-only access. Following the success of the internal training of the veterinary team in 2014, the Zoo hosted the first training workshop on the ZIMS with Medical module for 28 delegates from 19 different UK institutions to demonstrate how a modern zoo can utilise and benefit from the software in day-to-day work.
The two bronze awards recognise Twycross Zoo for their work with veterinary students from The University of Nottingham who, throughout their final year, each spend a week helping the in-house veterinary team.
To improve the care of animals with long-term medical issues or a behavioural concern, veterinary students and volunteers at Twycross Zoo carry out 30-minute objective behavioural observations twice daily to gather data that help the veterinary team assess an individual animal’s welfare. This way, the team was able to introduce changes to improve the care offered to the chimpanzees.
In addition, Twycross Zoo has been awarded for training veterinary students to become more confident in their abilities to work with zoo and exotic animals. While being awarded a veterinary degree qualifies graduates to treat virtually any of the 7.7 million species of animal, most undergraduate veterinary training focuses on commonly encountered domestic species such as dogs, cats, cows, sheep and horses. The veterinary staff at Twycross Zoo are working hard to try to rectify this by helping the students develop their transferable skills to enhance their confidence with exotic species.
Dr Kirsten Pullen, CEO of BIAZA says, “The standard of award submissions was incredibly high this year and I am delighted that Twycross Zoo has achieved two silver and two bronze awards in the Education and Animal Breeding, Care and Welfare categories.
“As BIAZA celebrates 50 years of ‘Working Together for Wildlife’ we have an opportunity to reflect on the incredibly important work we do in conservation and the significant contributions our members make in educating the public about our natural world and inspiring them to protect it. The zoo and aquarium community has come an incredibly long way since the Association came into being, but we must continuously strive to improve. This event has provided us with an opportunity to bring our members together to remind ourselves of how far we have come and re-inforce our commitment to animal welfare, conservation, education and scientific research.”
Originally known as The Federation of Zoological Gardens of Britain and Ireland, BIAZA was formed in 1966 out of recognition of the need for standardised principles and practices in animal management. Made up initially of just nine zoos and bird gardens, the Association has grown over the past 50 years and today its 113 strong membership have become a powerful force for conservation and education, with continuous scientific research and sharing of best practice to ensure the highest levels of animal welfare.
Twycross Zoo is open to the public from 10.00 to 18.00. For more information and to book tickets visit www.twycrosszoo.org or call 0844 474 1777.