Twycross Zoo

On the border of Warwickshire/Leicestershire you will find Twycross zoo, set in more than 80 acres, it’s a fantastic day out if you happen to be in the area.

Twycross zoo

There are around 500 animals at Twycross zoo, many of which are endangered and the zoo’s nature reserve houses many native species – Twycross zoo really is something special.

Bonobo monkey

Founded in 1963 by pet shop owners Molly Badham and Natalie Evans, after the pair’s increasing zoological collection outgrew their three quarter acre site in Hints, Staffordshire. Twycross zoo is now a renowned as a World Primate Centre and has a wide variety of monkeys, apes and the UK’s only group of bonobos which are our closest living relatives, sharing around 98% of our DNA.

babies at twycross

Twycross zoo has breeding groups of many endangered primate species and it was so lovely to see babies and toddlers playing around, unfortunately due condensation on the glass and my camera not being able to cope with going from the winter weather and then going indoors my photographs were not the best when it came to capturing the youngsters.

The animals at Twycross zoo have access to both indoor and outdoor enclosures during the day, it was a very cold and snowy day during our visit and a lot of the animals wanted the warmth of their enclosure and a bit of peace and quiet. We found that if an animal was difficult to spot, popping back after 30 minutes usually meant that we got to see it.

agile gibbon twycross zoo

We probably spent the longest amount of time with the Agile gibbons,  they have distinctive long arms and use a motion called brachiation to swing through the tree-tops.

These animals are fast, so fast that when we spotted one outside I couldn’t get a decent picture in the whole 20 minutes I spent there as my camera shutter speed just couldn’t cope (or my bad photography skills).

 

The main threat facing these gibbons is habitat loss, as wild forest is converted into farmland. On Sumatra, the expansion of oil palm plantations is a particular problem. As the forest shrinks, it has become easier to capture them to sell as pets; agile gibbons are regularly seen in wildlife markets.

Asian Elephant Twycross zoo

I’m so pleased that we got to see Twycross Zoo’s all-female elephant herd before they leave for their new home at Blackpool Zoo so the herd can breed naturally with a bull elephant. This will ensure the long-term survival of this beautiful, endangered species.

Alpaca Twycross zoo

As a social animal, it is necessary to keep alpaca in herds and a herd of 5-10 can be kept on an acre of land. Alpaca were domesticated for their coat. The fibre was used by the Incan royalty due to its quality. It is available worldwide today and considered softer than cashmere but stronger than sheeps wool.

Aldabra Tortoise Twycross zoo

Aldabra tortoise Twycross zoo

The Aldabra tortoise is one of the largest tortoises in the world. They have a thick, domed shell with robust limbs covered in scales.  The tortoises age very slowly and in 2005, an Aldabra tortoise was found dead in India. Its shell was carbon-dated showing it had reached the age of 255 years old.

The Aldabra tortoise is the only African giant tortoise to have survived in the wild. Their population was severely threatened between the 17th and 19th centuries due to hunting for meat. Now they are struggling against habitat destruction and introduced species. These introduced species include predators such as rats and cats that eat their eggs, and competition for grazing with goats. They are now protected and have conservation breeding programs on the island of Mauritius.

Zebra Twycross zoo

Twycross Zoo is home to the Chapman’s zebra, famous for their black and white stripes there are a number of different reasons suggested to explain zebra stripes, including dazzling predators, thermal regulation and stimulating group cohesion.  Arthur was most excited to see the Zebra as he has always missed them on previous zoo visits.

Giraffe Twycross zoo

Did you know that the Giraffe’s long necks contain just seven bones, the same as all other mammals (including humans) but the bones have ball and socket like joints that give them much more flexibility.

Giraffe Twycross zoo

The Giraffes are very sociable animals and we didn’t see any on their own, they were constantly following each other from inside to outside.

giraffe Twycross zoo

The current threats to giraffes are habitat loss through human development and poaching for skins and meat. Traditionally giraffe were hunted just for their tails – used as fly swatters and good luck charms.

Miniature donkey Twycross zoo

The Miniature donkey was probably the cutest animal at Twycross zoo (in my opinion), I was actually surprised that they were not bothered by the super cold snowy weather and we got the chance to watch them for a long time.

leaf cutter ants twycross zoo

The most impressive thing that I saw during my visit at Twycross zoo was the Leaf-cutter ant enclosure (if you can call it that).  Twycross really do use all possible space to display their animals and what better way to display ants than the rope bridge mirror in the toilets.  If you look closely you can see the minors and mediae collecting the leaves.

The ants do not actually eat leaves but cultivate them in a garden to grow a particular species of fungus, the root-like structures of this fungus are their diet. The ants also create multiple antibiotics to prevent the growth of unwanted fungus and will use these antibiotics in a similar way to humans to treat infections – impressive isn’t it.

Humboldt penguins Twycross zoo

The Humboldt penguins are great little characters and we watched them for a long time, swimming underwater and enjoying the audience watching them.

Humbolt Twycross zoo

 

Humboldt penguins can dive to 150m although they usually stay within 60m of the surface.  The penguins are sadly threatened by poaching, over-fishing of their food species and pollution which increases the risk of disease and are therefore classed as Vulnerable.

Butterfly twycross zoo

Don’t forget to visit the impressive tropical Butterfly Forest exhibit, all around you there are butterfly eggs, pupae, caterpillar and of course beautiful butterflies.  Don’t forget to check yourself in the mirror before you leave to make sure none have landed on you, I had one on my back and I didn’t realise until Arthur pointed it out.

snow leopard enclosure

The Himalaya Centre is home to The View restaurant which is open until 9pm on Friday evenings, we had a wonderful lunch there and what made it even better was that the restaurant overlooks the Himalayan themed snow leopard enclosure where I managed to briefly spot them.

The view Twycross zoo

The restaurant is a wonderful light and airy space that really needs to be visited to be appreciated, the staff are really friendly and of course the food which is the most important thing – it’s delicious.  Tables have plenty of space meaning that if you have pushchairs, wheelchairs or prams you will be easily able to fit them in with ease.

Childs pizza Twycross zoo

Arthur had the kids’ margherita pizza (£5.00), children can have a 3 course meal deal for £7 but on this occasion a pizza was enough.  The dough was soft, the sauce tasty and herby and the cheese plentiful.

fish and chips Twycross zoo

I had the beer battered fish which was served with chips, tartare sauce and peas (£10.00).  The batter was light and fluffy and didn’t swap the fish in anyway.  The tartar sauce was absolutely delicious, chunky and tasty, the perfect accompaniment to the light fish.

Adult pizza Twycross zoo

David had the Spicy meat feast pizza which was covered in delicious chorizo, sliced salami, pepperoni, fire roasted peppers, sliced chillies and spinach (£8.50)  Just like Arthur’s pizza, the dough was incredibly light and the pizza had just the right amount of spice to suit David’s love of heat.

It may have been due to the weather or the time of year that we visited but we were so impressed with Twycross zoo, it wasn’t so busy that you were queuing for a long time at the enclosures and we didn’t have to wait at all to see any animal.  We had photo opportunities at each enclosure and it truly was a pleasant experience, so much so that we had no meltdowns or tears at all from a very chilly Arthur.

Twycross zoo can be found on Burton Road, Atherstone, Warwickshire, CV9 3PX and is open every day except Christmas Day, 10am –  5pm in winter and 10am – 6pm from 25th March 2017.

If you’re interested in visiting the zoo yourself you can enter my competition to win a family ticket and meal at the view restaurant.

*all products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated.

 



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