Twycross Zoo £55m revamp to include great apes centre

Chimpanzee Eden Image copyright Weedon Architects
Image caption The first phase of Chimpanzee Eden is due to open in 2016

Twycross Zoo has announced a £55m investment programme aimed at improving welfare the of its animals and boosting visitor numbers.

The attraction, on the Leicestershire-Warwickshire border, claims to be the only zoo in the UK to house all four types of great ape.

It aims to bring bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans together in a new centre over the next 10 years.

Giraffes will also return to the zoo in April as part of the plans.

The new giraffe enclosure will feature a house, open-air paddock and a high-level viewing platform. The animals last featured at the zoo in October 2012.

Cognitive puzzles

Image copyright Weedon Architects
Image caption Gibbon Forest will be made up of a large complex of houses and adjoining islands
Image copyright Weedon Architects
Image caption Chimpanzee Eden is the first phase of the zoo's Cognition Centre for the great apes

Chief Executive Dr Sharon Redrobe said £10m would be spent at the zoo over the next three years.

One development, will be a moated island complex for gibbons which is to open in the summer along with a new water play area and cafe.

Dr Redrobe said: "These exciting enhancements and future developments will improve animal welfare standards by creating habitats that more closely resemble those of the natural, wild environment."

A new chimpanzee facility is scheduled for 2016 and will be the first phase of a planned Cognition Centre for the great apes.

Visitors will be able to see the apes carry out cognitive puzzles in the attraction.

The zoo currently attracts about 500,000 visitors a year, including 33,000 school children.

It was opened to the public in 1963 by founders Molly Badham and Nathalie Evans.

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