Release date: 15 February 2017
Gibbons at Twycross Zoo celebrate first year in new home
Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire is celebrating the first anniversary since their opening of Gibbon Forest, an innovative habitat for its wide collection of gibbons. Swinging further and faster than ever before, the zoo’s gibbons certainly enjoy their new home, which is one of the largest gibbon facilities in Europe.
Designed to replicate the natural forest environment, Gibbon Forest encourages its occupants to display their natural behaviours, which include loud calling, rarely descending to the ground and brachiating (swinging by arms from branch to branch).
Since moving into the new habitat, the zoo’s four gibbon families, representing four endangered species: agile, pileated, siamang and Northern white-cheeked, have been much more active and make a visit to Gibbon Forest an unforgettable experience for the zoo’s visitors.
Visitors get a close view of the gibbons inside the building, while outside they can observe the small apes swinging at breath-taking speeds across four moated islands. Proving to be a spectacular facility for gibbons and visitors alike, Gibbon Forest attracted over 18,000 people within the first 12 days of its opening.
Twycross Zoo Primate Team Leader Tony Dobbs confirms the gibbons love their new habitat: “The gibbons are comfortable in their new home and fully exploit the increased space and height that is available. We have definitely seen a huge increase in activity levels, development of muscle tone and body condition and a host of other improvements that you would expect to see from animals that are now considerably more active and displaying more of their natural behaviours.”
The different style of enclosure meant that also the keepers had to adjust to the new building to provide top level care for the animals, Dobbs explains. “We have continually adapted and modified our routines to suit the animals as they became more settled in the new surroundings and their behavioural patterns changed. The management facilities that have been built into the new building have made it much easier for the keepers to work alongside the gibbons in a way that is safe and enriching to the animals.”
The team of primate experts working at Twycross Zoo played a key role in informing the design of Gibbon Forest and their specialist knowledge and experience continues to ensure the highest standards of animal welfare.
Twycross Zoo is part of European captive breeding programmes which are designed to help ensure the future survival of endangered species, such as the four species of gibbon living in Gibbon Forest. As part of these programmes, three gibbons born at the zoo left last year 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 gibbon Elliott joined a male in Frankfurt Zoo, Germany.
Even with these departures, there is still a lot to see, hear and experience at Gibbon Forest, which shows off exactly what makes the species unique and marks the latest phase in the zoo’s £55million capital investment programme.
Twycross Zoo is open to the public from 10am to 5pm. For more information call 0844 474 1777, or visit www.twycrosszoo.org.
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Jana Fickerova or Jane Bevan, Firebird Public Relations
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Notes to Editors:
- Now celebrating over 50 years of business, Twycross Zoo is one of the UK’s major zoos and home to one of the largest primate collections in Europe. The zoo cares for around 150 species of animals and is the only place in the UK, and one of four worldwide, to see all four types of Great Ape (gorilla, orangutan, chimpanzee and bonobo) and a wide collection of gibbons.
- Many species at Twycross Zoo are part of European Endangered Species Programmes that aim to secure the future of threatened wild species by building a safe captive population.
- Twycross Zoo welcomes around 500,000 visitors a year to its 80-acre site in Leicestershire, funds and conducts scientific research, and has an award-winning education and outreach programme.
- Twycross Zoo contributes to conservation in the wild through their Conservation Fund. The Fund was created in 2006 and has supported over 55 conservation and welfare projects from many different countries around the world, including Ape Action Africa, Lola Ya Bonobo and the Cao Vit Conservation Programme.
- In 2015, the Zoo launched its 20-year, £55million Masterplan. Since then, new habitats Giraffe Savannah and Gibbon Forest have opened to the public. Additional renovations and new exhibits include Lorikeet Landing, a Lemur walk-through and the Butterfly House, all of which offer visitors an immersive experience with the animals.
- Twycross Zoo’s Himalaya Centre offers a spacious 300 seat all-day restaurant with views overlooking a Himalayan landscape enclosure for snow leopards, corporate facilities, a gift shop and a soft play attraction.
- For more information, visit: www.twycrosszoo.org
- High-resolution images are available on request.