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Achievements of Twycross Zoo recognised by national industry awards

Twycross Zoo has been recognised for its innovative gibbon habitat at the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) annual awards ceremony. In addition to the zoo’s collective achievement, Zak Showel, Animal Records Registrar at Twycross Zoo won this year’s ‘Rising Star’ award for going above and beyond in his role to further the goals of the zoo.

Sharon Redrobe, CEO at Twycross Zoo says, “We are all delighted to receive these Oscars of the zoo community for Twycross Zoo. Everyone here is so passionate about animal welfare, conservation and education and it is encouraging to see that the industry appreciates our efforts to become a world-class attraction that is committed to wildlife conservation.”

Twycross Zoo was commended with a silver award in recognition of its innovative gibbon facilities, Gibbon Forest, which opened in February 2016. The zoo’s keepers and other experts were regularly consulted on aspects of the design, resulting in an excellent facility which has already improved physical condition of the gibbons and also facilitates the day-to-day care of the animals.

The new ‘Rising Star’ of the zoo world, Zak Showel, oversees management of all animal records, animal transfers and corresponding legislation and is also the coordinator for the Siamang European Endangered Species Programme. Driven by Zak’s enthusiasm, Twycross Zoo staff utilise the data management system ZIMS to its full extent, which places the zoo at the forefront of record-keeping within the industry. Based on this experience, Zak extensively lectures and trains colleagues within the zoo community since 2014. In 2016, Zak was recognised as ZIMS Expert Advocate, making him the only person in Europe to hold this title and only one of two in the whole world.

Zak Showel, Animal Record Registrar says, “I am honoured to receive this award. Working behind the scenes in a zoo might not seem quite as exciting as working with the animals directly, but modern zoos need to use modern tools to work efficiently and provide the best animal care. I am proud of all my colleagues here at Twycross Zoo for stepping up to the challenge and helping us gather and keep up-to-date all the data about our animals so that we can ensure the best welfare standards.”

To top this successful streak, Twycross Zoo was shortlisted for the Leicester College Award to Industry in the Large Employer category for its work with the Higher National Diploma Business and Management students. The students completed a project evaluating the zoo’s social media use and preparing a comparison with three other UK zoos. All projects made were of a very high standard and made good recommendations.