GTW’s Advertising Client Manager, Harley Denham, spent a day at Twycross Zoo and found it ideal for animal-loving groups. If you’re planning a group trip there, here’s all you need to know
If you love monkeys, you’ll love Twycross Zoo, as the attraction is famed worldwide for having one of the largest collections of monkeys, apes and lemurs in the UK.
Twycross Zoo is also the only attraction in Britain where you can spot every type of ‘great ape’ – including gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans. From humble beginnings as a pet shop in Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands, Twycross first opened its doors in 1963, originally founded to protect primates, and set standards that were later undertaken by zoos around the world.
Now a registered charity, Twycross continues to fight to protect primate species and remains at the forefront of conservation, education and research. Its team of keepers strive to create natural habitats for the animals to live in, to better replicate their environment out in the wild.
More than 50% of the zoo’s animals contribute to European and international conservation breeding programmes.
Well prepared for groups of all sizes and age groups, Twycross Zoo – which is based in Tamworth – can be easily accessed by car or coach. Coach parking is easy to spot, giving groups a designated parking space and meeting area close to the entrance and the attraction’s visitor information centre. Upon arrival, you’re free to explore the Himalaya Food Hall, which has a soft play area, a gift shop and food counters where hot food – including a Sunday roast – is available.
You can also stop for a toilet break here (notice the newly-fitted glass window that overlooks the Snow Leopard enclosure). Twycross Zoo offers school visits tailored to the relevant curriculum for Key Stage One and Two, with the aim to inspire children about the natural world around them.
GCSE and post-16 sessions, along with special career days, also give students the chance to learn through experience. Dedicated group talks are available upon request, with 45-60 minute talks given on the history of the zoo, its conservation work and some of its most charismatic, interesting and endangered animals.
In addition to the Himalaya Food Hall, there are several restaurants located around the grounds. Next to the Kingdom of the Apes is a traditional fish bar serving fish and chips. There’s also the Wet and Wild Lodge CafÈ serving cold sandwiches, snacks, hot Panini’s and refreshments.
An outside seating area allows you to observe penguins and flamingos and if you choose to bring your own food and drink, there are plenty of benches and dedicated picnic areas, together with children’s play areas and a water park.
First on my list of things to do was wander through Life in the Trees, which is home to a selection of primates, including small monkeys, apes and baby orangutans (visitors are given map highlighting where all the babies can be found). Next was the Walk with Lemurs section, where the animals run free while you walk through their enclosure. I spotted one young girl from a nearby school group nearly stroke one, but I didn’t manage to get quite so close.
After a bite to eat, it was time to catch the elephant feeding display at 1430hrs (feeding times are also shown on your map). Twycross is home to a new baby elephant, with the elephant paddock surrounded by viewing areas and benches. There are also bamboo and palm trees and lots of elephant ornaments, statues and a wishing bowl – with a design related to the Indian elephant god Ganesha.
Next to the elephants, I spotted a giraffe poking his head out from its enclosure.
Afterwards, it was time to check out the Amus Leopard - considered the most endangered of all big cats, with an estimated 30 to 35 left in the wild. It was great to get up close and see these amazing animals being so well looked after and preserved at Twycross Zoo.