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Twycross Zoo unveils major redevelopment plans

Twycross Zoo will for the first time reveal the blueprints of an ambitious Masterplan that will see the transformation of the existing 34 acre site in rural Leicestershire, through a major £55 million capital investment programme over the next 20 years – aiming to become one of the region’s and the UK’s leading visitor attractions.

Work has already begun on the Giraffe Savannah enclosure, heralding the return of giraffes to the zoo in early April, while Gibbon Forest - a four-moated island complex will open in the summer, followed by Chimpanzee Eden, which is scheduled to open in 2016. Other plans include the largest children’s water-play area in Leicestershire, an extension to the orang-utan house, and a new café. These exciting developments will improve animal welfare standards by creating habitats that more closely resemble those of the natural, wild environment, as well as improve the visitor experience by providing more immersive, entertaining and educational visits.

At the official launch of the Masterplan on Tuesday 10 March, Twycross Zoo’s Chief Executive, Dr Sharon Redrobe, outlined the zoo’s ambition to become a landmark tourist venue, as well as to consolidate its reputation as an internationally respected hub of animal conservation, research and education. “We already attract over half a million visitors, including more than 33,000 schoolchildren every year, but we know that there are over 20 million potential visitors living and working with an hour’s drive of the zoo. In 2013 tourism contributed £1.5 billion to the regional economy and we want to play our part in helping to build a thriving business and leisure culture in Leicestershire.”

At Twycross Zoo the plans to create a whole new kind of visitor experience are being led by a new management team at the helm under the leadership of Dr Sharon Redrobe - an internationally renowned wildlife vet with a life-long fascination with chimpanzees and a recognised authority and advocate on zoos. “At the heart of these ambitious development plans”, says Redrobe, “lies a passionate commitment to the fundamental importance of environmental education and practical wildlife conservation, which is shared by all our dedicated staff.”

The launch of the first phase of the redevelopment will witness capital expenditure of over £10 million over the next three years, building on the zoo’s world-renowned primate collections. Twycross Zoo is the only zoo in the UK to house all four types of Great Apes (gorillas, orang-utans, bonobos and chimpanzees) and is only 1 of 4 zoos in the world to be able to make that claim, as well as being an internationally recognised gibbon breeding centre.

Scientific evidence indicates that all great apes will be extinct in the wild within 20 years, underlining the increasingly important role that zoos will play in the preservation of endangered species, often referred to as the ‘ark principle’. As Dr Charlotte Macdonald, Director of Life Sciences explains: “We want our animals at Twycross Zoo to be living and behaving as closely to how they would in the wild. Chimpanzees for example are accustomed to living in large mixed-aged groups and while we have already successfully increased the size of the groups, Chimpanzee Eden will allow even bigger numbers of animals to interact together in their new larger enclosures. Similarly Gibbon Forest will allow gibbons to travel for longer distances, enabling the gibbons to swing at speed over distances of 30-40 metres through the trees replicating their natural behaviour in the wild in south-east Asia.”

Giraffe Savannah will feature a house and open-air paddock on the north-western edge of the site with a high-level covered viewing platform, which will allow visitors to see the tallest animal in the world, standing at an extraordinary 18 feet (5.5 metres) tall, while providing views across a savannah-like scene with elephants and giraffes framed in the same vista.

Four gibbon groups will take up residence this summer in Gibbon Forest, a large complex of houses and adjoining islands including a two-storey indoor construction that raises people up into the heart of the gibbon habitat. The islands will be lushly planted with winding paths that will see visitors walking through an ‘Asian rainforest’, hearing the gibbons calling and swinging overhead as they walk through the exhibit, which will also feature birds and small animals.

The first phase of what is planned to become a multi-ape Cognition Centre, Chimpanzee Eden will open in 2016, a complex, socially-adaptable environment, especially designed for the Zoo’s two chimpanzee groups. The zone will include cognition pods, where the chimpanzees can participate in cognitive puzzles, allowing visitors to learn about the cognitive abilities of our closest living relatives. The multi-story building will provide world-class facilities for both animal welfare, research, education and visitors.

Twycross Zoo is probably best known as the home of the tea chimps, thanks to the iconic PG Tips advertising campaigns of the 1960s and 1970s, which made the zoo a popular tourist destination and generated significant income. But changing public attitudes means such use of zoo animals is no longer considered acceptable. Modern zoos are not simply regarded as places of public entertainment, but as important centres of conservation and animal behavioural research.

“The changes planned at Twycross Zoo,” concludes Redrobe, “are truly visionary and will provide new opportunities for public engagement, allowing visitors to explore the wonders of animal behaviours up close and also to observe living science in action”.

Twycross Zoo will for the first time reveal the blueprints of an ambitious Masterplan that will see the transformation of the existing 34 acre site in rural Leicestershire, through a major £55 million capital investment programme over the next 20 years – aiming to become one of the region’s and the UK’s leading visitor attractions.

Work has already begun on the Giraffe Savannah enclosure, heralding the return of giraffes to the zoo in early April, while Gibbon Forest - a four-moated island complex will open in the summer, followed by Chimpanzee Eden, which is scheduled to open in 2016. Other plans include the largest children’s water-play area in Leicestershire, an extension to the orang-utan house, and a new café. These exciting developments will improve animal welfare standards by creating habitats that more closely resemble those of the natural, wild environment, as well as improve the visitor experience by providing more immersive, entertaining and educational visits.

At the official launch of the Masterplan on Tuesday 10 March, Twycross Zoo’s Chief Executive, Dr Sharon Redrobe, outlined the zoo’s ambition to become a landmark tourist venue, as well as to consolidate its reputation as an internationally respected hub of animal conservation, research and education. “We already attract over half a million visitors, including more than 33,000 schoolchildren every year, but we know that there are over 20 million potential visitors living and working with an hour’s drive of the zoo. In 2013 tourism contributed £1.5 billion to the regional economy and we want to play our part in helping to build a thriving business and leisure culture in Leicestershire.”

At Twycross Zoo the plans to create a whole new kind of visitor experience are being led by a new management team at the helm under the leadership of Dr Sharon Redrobe - an internationally renowned wildlife vet with a life-long fascination with chimpanzees and a recognised authority and advocate on zoos. “At the heart of these ambitious development plans”, says Redrobe, “lies a passionate commitment to the fundamental importance of environmental education and practical wildlife conservation, which is shared by all our dedicated staff.”

The launch of the first phase of the redevelopment will witness capital expenditure of over £10 million over the next three years, building on the zoo’s world-renowned primate collections. Twycross Zoo is the only zoo in the UK to house all four types of Great Apes (gorillas, orang-utans, bonobos and chimpanzees) and is only 1 of 4 zoos in the world to be able to make that claim, as well as being an internationally recognised gibbon breeding centre.

Scientific evidence indicates that all great apes will be extinct in the wild within 20 years, underlining the increasingly important role that zoos will play in the preservation of endangered species, often referred to as the ‘ark principle’. As Dr Charlotte Macdonald, Director of Life Sciences explains: “We want our animals at Twycross Zoo to be living and behaving as closely to how they would in the wild. Chimpanzees for example are accustomed to living in large mixed-aged groups and while we have already successfully increased the size of the groups, Chimpanzee Eden will allow even bigger numbers of animals to interact together in their new larger enclosures. Similarly Gibbon Forest will allow gibbons to travel for longer distances, enabling the gibbons to swing at speed over distances of 30-40 metres through the trees replicating their natural behaviour in the wild in south-east Asia.”

Giraffe Savannah will feature a house and open-air paddock on the north-western edge of the site with a high-level covered viewing platform, which will allow visitors to see the tallest animal in the world, standing at an extraordinary 18 feet (5.5 metres) tall, while providing views across a savannah-like scene with elephants and giraffes framed in the same vista.

Four gibbon groups will take up residence this summer in Gibbon Forest, a large complex of houses and adjoining islands including a two-storey indoor construction that raises people up into the heart of the gibbon habitat. The islands will be lushly planted with winding paths that will see visitors walking through an ‘Asian rainforest’, hearing the gibbons calling and swinging overhead as they walk through the exhibit, which will also feature birds and small animals.

The first phase of what is planned to become a multi-ape Cognition Centre, Chimpanzee Eden will open in 2016, a complex, socially-adaptable environment, especially designed for the Zoo’s two chimpanzee groups. The zone will include cognition pods, where the chimpanzees can participate in cognitive puzzles, allowing visitors to learn about the cognitive abilities of our closest living relatives. The multi-story building will provide world-class facilities for both animal welfare, research, education and visitors.

Twycross Zoo is probably best known as the home of the tea chimps, thanks to the iconic PG Tips advertising campaigns of the 1960s and 1970s, which made the zoo a popular tourist destination and generated significant income. But changing public attitudes means such use of zoo animals is no longer considered acceptable. Modern zoos are not simply regarded as places of public entertainment, but as important centres of conservation and animal behavioural research.

“The changes planned at Twycross Zoo,” concludes Redrobe, “are truly visionary and will provide new opportunities for public engagement, allowing visitors to explore the wonders of animal behaviours up close and also to observe living science in action”.

 

Last updated September 2015