Every day is ‘World Gibbon Day’ at Twycross Zoo

What better way to enjoy World Gibbon Day on Monday 24 October, than with a visit to one of the largest gibbon facilities in Europe at Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire.

Gibbon Forest, which opened just over six months ago, is specially designed to replicate the natural forest environment of gibbons as well as provide an exciting new experience for visitors. The 7-metre tall central building raises visitors up for a closer view of the gibbons, while outside, visitors can observe gibbon families calling and swinging across the four moated islands.

Twycross Zoo has the most diverse collection of gibbons in the UK, and Gibbon Forest houses the zoo's four different species, all of which are endangered in the wild: agile, pileated, siamang and Northern white-cheeked. The Zoo is recognised internationally as a specialist in primate conservation: as well as having the widest collection of gibbons in Europe, it is also the only zoo in the UK, and one of four worldwide, to house all four types of great ape (gorillas, orangutans, bonobos and chimpanzees).

Twycross Zoo is part of European breeding programmes for endangered species, and recently three gibbons born at the zoo left to join new mates in other countries: Sky, an agile gibbon, joined a male in Plock Zoo, Poland; Eric, a Northern white-cheeked gibbon, joined a female in Dierenrijk Zoo in The Netherlands; and female Northern white-cheeked gibbonElliott joined a male in Frankfurt Zoo, Germany.

Twycross Zoo also supports gibbons and their forest habitat directly in the wild, by funding a community-based conservation project on the border between Vietnam and China. The project, run by Fauna and Flora International, supports ranger patrols which monitor the second most endangered ape on the planet – the Cao Vit gibbon. The project also recently delivered eco-friendly steel and clay stoves to local families, reducing their need to cut down forest trees for fuel.

Dr Charlotte Macdonald, Director of Life Sciences at Twycross Zoo and Chair of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) Gibbon Taxon Advisory Group explains: “Gibbons spend most of their life in the tree-tops, rarely descending to the ground. So it’s important to save their habitat in the wild, as well as provide an environment here at Twycross Zoo which closely resembles their natural world. We’re really pleased to see that our gibbons have settled into their new home, and are swinging through the trees as they would do in Southeast Asia."

The innovative £2million Gibbon Forest marks the latest phase in the zoo's £55million capital investment programme. Other exciting recent developments at Twycross Zoo include: the return of giraffes with Giraffe Savannah; Elephant Creek; immersive walkthroughs with lemurs, lorikeets and butterflies; the largest children’s water-play area in Leicestershire; an extension to the orangutan house; and a new café.