Chimpanzees are the species most synonymous with Twycross Zoo.
Since the zoo’s inception in 1963, Chimpanzees have resided in a number of enclosures with the last purpose-built Chimpanzee exhibit being opened in the mid-1980s.
Pathing the way as one of the UK’s leading conservation charities, Twycross Zoo’s ultimate goal was to introduce all of their Chimpanzees into one social group, encouraging natural behaviours however in order to achieve this, the Chimpanzees would need to move from their 1980s built home and into a new facility.
Chimpanzee Eden opened in 2018. This new purpose built facilitate was constructed to provide a modern, state-of-the-art habitat for our closes relatives and was the next step in the zoo’s long-term masterplan.
The habitat was designed to house all of the Zoo’s 17 chimpanzees with the ability to hold up to 30-35 animals in one large group.
Two seven-metre-high indoor habitats were connected to a large outdoor area and a purpose-build research area was also incorporated.
Visitor viewing to both the indoor and outdoor areas was also themed to give an insight into the natural habitat of chimpanzees and the perils they face due to deforestation and habitat destruction.
In order to achieve this revolutionary habitat, Twycross Zoo worked closely with the University of Birmingham as part of the pioneering work to develop the Enclosure Design Tool (EDT) for chimpanzees in a zoo environment.
The EDT is an interactive computer software system that enabled them to compare the behaviour of captive chimpanzees to those living in wild populations. This was then used to develop a habitat that provides a physically and mentally stimulating environment that replicates the challenges of forest life and therefore encourages the Chimpanzees to exhibit more natural behaviours.
Building on Twycross’ already strong relationship with several universities, the ability to provide facilities for high quality research was also high on the agenda. The project was submitted for the BIAZA Exhibits Award category 2019 and won a gold award.