Twycross Zoo logo
|Date opened||May 1963|
|Location||Twycross, Leicestershire, England|
|Land area||80 acres (32 ha)|
|Number of animals||1000+|
|Number of species||200 (2010)|
|Memberships||BIAZA, EAZA, WAZA|
|Major exhibits||Great Apes, Monkeys, Amur Leopards, Snow Leopards, Tropical House, Elephants, Bornean Longhouse, Pets @ Twycross|
Twycross Zoo is an 80-acre (32 ha) zoo near the village of Twycross in Leicestershire, close to the border of Warwickshire (on the A444 about 3 miles (4.8 km) off the A42/M42). The zoo claims the largest collections of monkeys and apes in the World, and in 2006 re-launched itself as "Twycross Zoo – The World Primate Centre." The zoo attracts around 500,000 visitors a year. The zoo is open year round except Christmas Day.
In 2000 Badham and Evans co-wrote Molly's Zoo, a book telling the story of the zoo's history.
The zoo was founded in 1963 by Molly Badham and Nathalie Evans. In 1972 it became a charitable trust (The East Midland Zoological Society).
The Tropical House, opened in 2005, houses a variety of South American species in a natural walk-through rainforest. Groups entering the house are accompanied by zoo staff and are limited in size. Displays outside the house explain how people live in the rainforest, including a selection of plants and trees that can be harvested for food. Inside the house, a "ranger's hut" includes a specimen tank that houses endangered blue poison dart frogs. The main rainforest exhibit houses free-roaming species which include common marmosets, green iguana, Linne's two-toed sloths and many varieties of tropical birds. There are also turtles, fruit bats, spiders and a boa constrictor tank. The Tropical House formerly housed the zoo's reptile collection.
Improvements to the elephant paddock were completed in spring 2007. The new-look exhibit features a sand paddock with standing dead trees, a mud paddock, three outdoor sleeping pens and the UK's largest elephant pool.
In July 2007, Twycross Zoo dedicated a new exhibit to Miss Mary Brancker CBE FRCVS (1914-2010) – a Founding Trustee of the Zoo, President of the Twycross Zoo Association for 15 years, the original vet for over thirty years and the first female President of the British Veterinary Association – in recognition of her lifetime commitment to both Twycross and animal welfare. The Mary Brancker Waterways and Bornean Longhouse features a walk-through exhibit with waterfowl and Bornean birds and turtles. Educational material explains how people live in the traditional longhouses in Borneo. An enclosure for Scottish wild cats is also featured.
In September 2007, Twycross Zoo announced that it had received a grant of £3 million from the East Midlands Development Agency which has helped it to achieve its fundraising target for a new £11 million visitor centre. The project, named Magnificent Himalaya, is an eco-friendly building containing a gift shop, cafeteria and information about the zoo's conservation work, and opened in May 2010. A new enclosure for snow leopards and a large aviary were completed at the same time.
Animal exhibits 
Twycross is notable for having the largest collection of primate species of any zoo in the world, outside Japan. It is the only British zoo to exhibit all four species of great ape, including the UK's only group of breeding bonobos (which joined the zoo in 1992). It is also known for its large collection of chimpanzees, some of whom were featured in television adverts for PG Tips tea.
Twycross Zoo also holds a diverse collection of other animals, many of them threatened species. They include the Amur leopard, the rarest big cat in the world with only 30–40 animals left in the wild. The leopards at Twycross are part of a European endangered species captive breeding programme. In December 2006, twin cubs were born, both male. Unfortunately their mother died shortly after the birth due to illness, so the cubs were hand-reared. One male has now left Twycross Zoo as part of a captive breeding programme.
Also here are Bactrian camels, Patagonian sea lions, penguins and many other mammals, birds and reptiles. They also use to house giraffes but they left for Blair Drummond Safari Park in Scotland in October 2012 as they did not feel that they were in a suitable environment despite the fact their enclosure met all the EAZA guidlienes.
Twycross Zoo has a professional Education Department whose task is to interpret the zoo for schools, universities and the general public. This ranges from giving talks, writing lively information packs, and supervising research to designing and producing signs and graphics for the zoo. In 2009 they taught 32,500 students.
Twycross Zoo offers lively interactive educational sessions. Enabling students to observe, discover and experience the living world. The zoo allows pupils to develop skills and concepts about our world and our responsibilities to it. All educational sessions are linked to the national curriculum or specific syllabi. Educational sessions for children from reception age upwards.
Twycross Zoo has achieved the standards to claim the Learning outside the Classroom Quality Badge, one of only a few zoos in this country to have the award. This will assure teachers and trip organisers that we reliably provide a high quality teaching and learning experience and will facilitate access for organisers with little time to arrange such trips, increasing access to the Zoo for more children.
Twycross Zoo’s Education Department Vision: To positively impact all people within Twycross Zoos sphere of influence.
Conservation and breeding 
With the advent of co-ordinated breeding programmes for numerous species held in captivity and standardised electronic animal record keeping systems (ARKS) it is now possible to track the different subspecies that are managed and ensure that these are managed as pure subspecies. Twycross Zoo is now recognised as having a database of the animals in its care, both current and historically, that is comparable to any major zoological garden worldwide. Additionally several breeding programmes are managed at Twycross Zoo, including Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persicus), Patagonian sealion (Otaria byronia), siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus) and saddle-billed stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis).
A group of four female Asian elephants occupy an enclosure on the west side of the zoo. The females are all of breeding age, but the current facilities are not adequate for keeping a bull elephant for breeding purposes. Rather than extend the facilities or lose their elephants completely, Twycross decided to try artificial insemination. The project was successful and a baby elephant, Ganesh, was born on 6 August 2009.
The future 
The zoo is planning to open a contemporary art gallery providing a collection of paintings, limited edition prints, sculpture, ceramics, and glass for sale.
Controversy: allowing re-introduction of hybrid tiger 
Tara, a hand-reared supposedly Bengal tigress acquired from Twycross Zoo in July 1976 was trained by Billy Arjan Singh and reintroduced to the wild in Dudhwa National Park, India with the permission of India’s then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in an attempt to prove the experts wrong that zoo bred hand reared Tigers can ever be released in the wild with success. In the 1990s, some tigers from Dhudhwa were observed which had the typical appearance of Siberian tigers: white complexion, pale fur, large head and wide stripes. With recent advances in science it was subsequently found that Siberian Tigers genes have polluted the otherwise pure Bengal Tiger gene pool of Dudhwa National Park. It was alleged later that Twycross Zoo had not maintained proper breeding records and had given India a hybrid Siberian-Bengal Tigress instead, although at the time, and taking into account information received regarding all of the tigers kept at Twycross Zoo, it was believed that Tara was a pure Bengal tiger. Dudhwa tigers constitute about 1% of India's total wild population, but the possibility exists of this genetic pollution spreading to other tiger groups, which could jeopardize the Bengal tiger as a distinct subspecies.
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Media related to Twycross Zoo at Wikimedia Commons