Twycross, Atherton, Warwickshire
||6 miles north of Atherstone on the A444
||From 10 am to 6 pm (dusk in winter) Every day of the year except Christmas Day
||Acres 110 / Hectares 25
||No of Species
||No of Animals
|Click here for a Link to the Zoo's own Web Pages
review of this zoo
This critique last updated:
Review by David Lomas September 2010
The entrance to Twycross Zoo has been totally revamped. The coach and car park is now outside the Zoo entrance. You enter by skirting the outside of an aviary enter “Himalaya” visitor centre with an extensive retail space for the Zoo, food outlets and a large seating area alongside a panoramic window that overlooks a large Snow Leopard enclosure.
You pass through Himalaya to reach the zoo gates. The Zoo styles itself as ‘The World Primate Centre’ and has representatives of all the Great and Lesser Apes; new and old world monkeys; as well as lemurs. There are over fifty species of monkeys and apes – although I didn’t attempt to count them myself!
The social group of Bonobos, once classed as Pygmy Chimpanzees, are worth an extended spell of observation. There are several Chimpanzee Houses, two Gorilla Houses and one for Bornean Orangutans. The monkeys and gibbons are generally held in long meshed cages that back onto indoor enclosures. It must be a challenge to present so many similar animals, but I’d favour less mesh and more moats for some of these monkeys.
There’s more to Twycross than apes and monkeys though, there are the zoo favourites of Sea Lions; Penguins; Flamingos; Parrots; Giraffes; Bactrian Camels; Amur Leopards; and a fine herd of five Asian Elephants – including an infant. There’s a South American paddock of Vicuna, Capybara and Mara. There are several themed walkthrough aviaries and a small Tropical House with guided tours – there aren’t any unguided tours! I can understand the need for tours as the paths are narrow and it includes a short walk-through a cave hosting a colony of Seba’s Short Tailed bats. If you want to visit the Tropical House and see Common Marmosets; Two-toed Sloth; and some tropical forest dwelling birds, then you need to book your place upon arrival at the Zoo.
One splendid signage feature at many of the enclosures was an illustration of how to name the animal using sign-language.
At Twycross you’ll see animals, besides the Bonobos, that you might not routinely see elsewhere in UK zoos such as a pack of Dholes; Bat-eared Foxes; Striped Hyenas; Malayan Tapir; and Scottish Wild Cats. However, nothing quite prepares you for taking a call of nature in Himalaya whereupon entering the Gents you face a full length picture window on the Waders’ Aviary (unoccupied on the day of the visit) and when you come to wash your hands you look in the mirror to be confronted by a parade of Leaf Cutter Ants!
Review by Helen Ingall May 2006
During a recent Bank Holiday weekend my partner and I decided to visit Twycross Zoo: my only previous visit had been many years ago when only a small child, so my memories were hazy to say the least. I can only say that this visit was a revelation: surely one of the best Zoo's of its kind, with some truly bewitching animals to see. My over-riding impression was of the sheer cleanliness and space of the animal enclosures: if it is at all permissable to transfer a human emotion onto an animal then I can only say that they really did look "happy" and content, with none of the symptoms of boredom or distress that can characterize some species when confined in a zoo. Particular highlights for us were the Orang Utans with their baby, the awesome silver-backed Gorilla, Joe (with his own batchelor pad, complete with tv screen!) and the enchanting Bonobo baby monkey. There is much more to the zoo than just the primates, however, with elephants, giraffes, lions and leopards. The message of the critical importance of conservation really does go hand-in-hand at Twycross with the day-to-day basis of feeding and caring for all the animals.
Just one tiny point- whilst waiting in the queue to pay for our entrance tickets someone came up and presented us with a form asking us to tick the box for Giftaid, without any explanation as to what this entailed. We said no as did not fully understand what it would mean, but when we reached the kiosk a large board was then visible explaining that by paying 10% over the ticket price the government would gift the zoo money. If we had had this properly explained we would have agreed straight away: I just thought it might be better to display this information board as you leave the car park area, so that you are briefed beforehand.
This really is though a minor quibble: do go and pay a visit - it's a wonderful place for children
Review by Liz Parkhurst, August 2005
Last week, my husband & I took our granddaughter to the zoo, also my mum-in-law. We all found the day both enjoyable & informative, with clean cages and plenty of things to keep the animals occupied. Bethany - 9 years old, intelligent, and animal-mad, loved it. We were impressed by your conservation programme and your stance against the fur and "parts" trade.
The down-side - there has to be one - was that your gravel paths may look nice, but are a b***** to push a wheelchair on, and the walls of some enclosures were a bit too high for the old lady to see over. I don`t suppose you can do much about it, but there it is.
Apart from that, we had an enlightening time. The efforts of one of the chimps to push some grass through the edge of his window to a lady who was talking to him was a big "aaahhh" moment.
Review Submitted by Andrew Waddington, November 2000
Anyone who saw the TV series "Molly's Zoo" will already be aware of just how passionate zoo founder Molly Badham is about chimpanzees. This really is a place where each animal is an individual to be cared for and loved, regardless of it's species, age or health. Looking at the zoo itself, and the primate collection is spectacular not only for the species kept, but also the number of each species, with chimps, red howlers and lar gibbons seemingly filling up half the zoo! All the great apes can be seen here, including bonobos (pygmy chimps). There are gibbons in long, tall cages, woolly monkeys, beautiful langurs, and a small house devoted to tamarins and marmosets. One thing worth noting is that, although none of the primate enclosures are particularly amazing, nothing here looks old - the entire park is clean and modern. Whilst the primates are wonderful here, the rest of the collection is just as good. Big cats are represented by - surprise, surprise- lions and tigers, and there are giraffes, camels, penguins and meerkats to see. Sealions here have a lovely pool with a rocky backdrop. There is a massive mound of earth occupied by Prairie Marmots, a good owl collection, and a nice area for waterfowl at the edge of the zoo. However, two endangered species rarely seen in British zoos provide the highlights for me. Dholes are a large red dog from India, and a small group hailing from Aspinall's zoos is well kept here, with a safety barrier disguised by a bush. Then there are the Sand Cats - delightful little felines, smaller and cuter than many domestic cats, they really are enchanting animals. You'll wonder why the keepers don't just cuddle them all day, they are just so appealing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Another animal worthy of note is the elephant - so often they look so bored in zoos, but not here. Two adorable babies are part of a family group living in not one, but two enclosures, linked by an Elephant bridge!!!!!!!!!! Twycross is a zoo with something for everyone- lions and tigers for the everyday visitor, donkey rides for youngsters, and dholes and sand cats for the zoo enthusiast. Even if it is a long way to travel, your journey will be well worthwhile
GoodZoos.com ReviewsLike many Good Zoos all around the world, Twycross Zoo began simply as the private collection of an animal enthusiast. She is Miss Molly Badham, and her passion for keeping animals began in the 1940s when she used to run a little pet shop in Sutton Coldfield, just a few miles north of Birmingham. One day in 1949, into her shop was brought a woolly monkey named Sambo. He was the first monkey to come into the pet store, and Molly Badham could not bring herself to sell hi. It was the modest beginning of what was to become a lifetime's obsession with primates. Within a year she had a collection of monkeys thgat threatened to overrun the shop, and in 1954 she moved along with all her animals to Staffordshire and opened a small zoo - Hints Zoological Gardens.
At Hints the collection grew rapidly, and in 1963 Molly Badham was ready to move again. This time the move was to Twycross, to the present larger site on the A444 Tamworth to Hinkley road.
In the 1950s most monkeys had a pitifully shorth life in captivity. As Molly Badham relates in her book 'Chimps with Everything', many primates that are now considered endangered could be bought for a few pounds in the pet shops of Pimlico. Collectors and zoos found them so easy to obtain that the poor survival was rarely a problem. Veterinary care and husbandry of primates was in its infancy, and captive breeding almost unheard of. It was against this background that Badham staerted her zoo, and set about learning almost from scratch how to care for her animals.
Many of the zoo's early charges arrived as weak and pathetic specimens from dealers who imported them under appalling conditions. Others were pets that had outgrown the ability of their owners to look after them. This was the way that many of Twycross' s original chimpanzees entered the collection, and for many years the zoo was best known for its chimps and their TV advertisements for Brooke-Bond Tea. This association has long ended, but in the early days the royalties provided valuable revenues which paid for many of the developments in the zoo.
The site at Twycross is a broad rectangle of around 50 acres. ABout half the space is taken up with car parks which are conveniently within the zoo. The rest of the zoo is flat, relatively unlandscaped, and grassy. The paths are good, and there are plenty of young trees, and some tall, well established trees particularly on the Eastern side. The zoo is largely conventional in the design of most of its buildings which are fairly spaced out around the park, and unlike many country zoos it devotes very few of its acres to grazing herds.
Today Twycross Zoo is an internationally important centre for the breeding of primates. Very few zoos, anywhere in the world, have the experience that Twycross has with so many monkeys and apes. When we visited there were several groups of siamangs (the largest of the gibbons), pileated gibbons, Kloss's gibbons, lar gibbons, agile gibbons, and bl;ack gibbons and most (if not all) of these appeared to be breeding.
As our Good Zoo Visitor reviews show, Twycross remains an inspring and encouraging zoo to visit. It is an important conservation zoo, with a clear commitment to its visitors too
Asian Short-Clawed Otter
Black-tailed Prairie Dog
Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby
Linne's Two-Toed Sloth
Westland Lowland Gorilla
White-cheeked Concolor Gibbon
Red Howler Monkey
Black Howler Monkey
Black & White Ruffed Lemur
Red Ruffed Lemur
Red-Faced Black Spider Monkey
Brown-Headed Spider Monkey
Columbian Spider Monkey
Humboldt's Whoolly Monkey
Black & White Colobus
Golden Lion Tamarin
Golden-Headed Lion Tamarin
Red-Mantled Saddleback Tamarin
Pale-Headed Saki Monkey
Allen's Swamp Monkey
Lesser Spot-nosed Guenon
Javan Leaf Monkey
Dusky Leaf Monkey
Also Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Goats, Pigs etc in the Pets Corner.
Ross's Snow Goose
African Crowed Crane
North American Wood Duck
Australian Wood Duck
Palawan Peacock Pheasant
Gough Island Moorhen
Mauritius Pink Pigeon
Blue & Yellow Macaw
Great Grey Owl
Spotted Eagle Owl
Great Horned Owl
Boobook Hawk Owl
Mackinders Eagle Owl
Collard Scops Owl
White-faced Scops Owl
Brown Wood Owl
Reptiles: (Not Completed)
European Pond Turtle
Bell's Hingeback Tortoise
Home's Hingeback Tortoise
Aldabran Giant Tortoise