From humble beginnings in a pet shop in Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands, which then progressed to a small collection at Hints on the outskirts of Tamworth, the world famous Twycross Zoo opened its doors on Sunday 26th May 1963; the opening ceremony being performed by Jean Morton of children’s puppet show, Tinga and Tucker fame.
The brain child of Molly Badham and Nathalie Evans, coupled with their intense love of primates, Twycross Zoo was founded to fulfil their dream of protecting primates and set standards which were to be followed by zoos around the world for years to come.
Twycross has come a very long way since its opening. Now a registered charity, the zoo is renowned as a specialist primate centre and has a wide variety of monkeys and all four great ape species, including the UK’s only group of bonobos. Twycross Zoo has always been famous for the breeding of primates and has recorded first UK births for thirteen different species including the bonobo, siamang, agile gibbon and woolly monkey, contributing to numerous conservation breeding programmes.
In her time, Molly Badham was a world leader in primate care and highly regarded for her work with chimpanzees. Molly achieved many ‘world firsts’ during her leadership, from breeding animals successfully through to being a founder member of the National Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland.
Molly even led to a step change in how animals were kept in zoos across the nation by giving monkeys access to grass when many zoos still kept them in sterile cages. And for all of that Twycross Zoo owes her a great debt.
Nowadays, zoos play a much bigger part in the conservation of our natural world. Twycross Zoo is at the forefront of conservation, education and research, and has a strong commitment to its award winning education programme which aims to increase the level of awareness, knowledge and understanding of visitors about our animals and their plight in the wild. Our Conservation Welfare Fund has contributed over £350,000 since it was created in 2006. It has supported over 55 conservation and welfare projects from 27 different countries around the world.
We place a much stronger emphasis on creating natural habitats for our animals to live in, to better replicate their environment out in the wild, and more than 50% of our animals contribute to European and international convervation breeding programmes, preserving genetically diverse collections of threatened species for reintroduction back into natural environments.