This time last year, Twycross Zoo celebrated the arrival of a new baby bonobo, the first to be born in the UK since 2019. In 2023, Twycross Zoo is celebrating it’s 60th anniversary and is proud to be the only zoo in the UK home to the bonobo species of great ape, human’s closest living relatives. To highlight the significance of Upendi’s birth, for this endangered species, we’re re-sharing the amazing story…
Twycross Zoo’s baby bonobo, Upendi, is 9 months old. We checked in with keeper Jen to find out how he's getting on...
In celebration of the England women's national football team’s success last weekend, Twycross Zoo has dedicated the name of their adorable new François' Langur to midfielder Fran Kirby.
François' Langurs are an endangered species that live in a matriarchal society where the females share parenting responsibilities with each other
The Lionesses' victory is a huge success & Twycross hopes that naming their latest special arrival after one of the incredible players from this inspiring women’s team is a fitting tribute that will inspire success to this amazing endangered species.
Announced ahead of World Bonobo Day (14 February), the new baby is a hugely exciting arrival for Twycross Zoo, the only zoo in the UK to house all four great ape species, including the endangered bonobo.
Born to Cheka (age 25) the baby has been named Upendi, which means love in Swahili.
Twycross Zoo’s in-house veterinary team discovered that Cheka was pregnant during a regular health check, performed when Cheka and the zoo’s family of bonobos moved into an expansive new enclosure in September 2021. Since then, she has been closely monitored by the ape and veterinary team.
The new habitat provided the 13-strong group with more space, as well as improved lighting and heating. It also offers the bonobos more climbing structures for their ongoing enrichment, plus two outdoor areas to explore.
Twycross Zoo had a very special announcement on the 23rd of July. The zoo, in Atherstone, Warwickshire, UK, is now home to two more of the rarest big cats on earth! The pair of Amur Leopard cubs were born to their two year old mother, Kristen, on June 2nd.
According to estimates, there are less than 50 Amur Leopards currently living in the wild. Native to southeastern Russia and northeastern China, the Amur Leopard is classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. Poaching, illegal logging, forest clearance and land development, as well as the risks associated with disease and in-breeding within such a small population, are all factors which threaten the long-term survival of the species.
As of 2011, there were 176 Amur Leopards living in accredited zoos throughout the world. Twycross Zoo is a member of the EEP (European Endangered Species Programme), which is a captive breeding program that allows expert committees to analyze data from captive Amur Leopards in zoos across Europe, in an effort to find suitable breeding matches.
Dr. John Lewis, veterinary advisor to the Amur Leopard EEP and veterinary director of Wildlife Vets International, explains: “We don’t know how many of the Amur Leopards remaining in the wild are young or old, male or female. So if the population is skewed towards too many males, or too many older individuals, this can impact the species’ chances of breeding successfully. The added threats of disease and human-animal conflict also jeopardize the animals’ survival. Zoo breeding programs are fundamental to protecting and saving species that are close to extinction in the wild.”
A healthy, managed population of Amur Leopards underpins international plans to reintroduce them to the wild habitats from where they are disappearing. As well as participating in the EEP, Twycross Zoo is also funding research by Wildlife Vets International on the feasibility and risks of reintroducing Amur Leopards to Russia.
The scientific research is in progress. A risk assessment on disease from prey species or domestic animals (such as canine distemper virus), as well as tick-borne pathogens, is underway, and mitigation measures are being explored. However, progress is slow as modern wildlife conservation and any reintroduction plans involve complex negotiations on an international scale between different governments and different organizations. The decision on whether to proceed with the Amur Leopard’s reintroduction into the wild is imminent, and rests in the hands of the Russian government, a key player in this international effort.
Dr. Charlotte Macdonald, Head of Life Sciences at Twycross Zoo said: “We are delighted with the birth of two rare Amur Leopard cubs at Twycross Zoo. We are hopeful that these UK-born babies will one day be part of wider conservation plans for the reintroduction of the species to the wild. Although animals are best conserved in the wild, and it’s unlikely that any reintroduction will take place for several more years, captive-bred cubs such as these could help save the Amur Leopard from disappearing forever.”
See more photos below...
The United Kingdom's Twycross Zoo has announced the birth of an Orangutan! Born in the early hours of the morning on November 28, the newborn ape is happy, healthy and doing very well.
The new arrival is 36-year old Kibriah’s fourth offspring and yet another vital addition to the European Breeding Programme of this endangered great ape.
Dr. Charlotte Macdonald, head of life sciences at the zoo, says, “When keepers arrived in the morning they were delighted to find Kibriah had given birth overnight.
“Although Kibriah isn’t a first time mum, this is her first baby in 12 years, so we’re all very pleased with how well she’s doing. She’s very confident and relaxed with the infant, and enjoying plenty of rest! At the moment Dad [Batu, aged 24] hasn’t met the new arrival but it won’t be long before they’re introduced. Batu is a great father to Molly, our three year old Orangutan, so we expect the meeting to go very smoothly.”
See video of the baby at 14 days old:
Female Orangutans generally give birth to a single infant after a gestation period of approximately eight and a half months. Female Bornean Orangutans reach maturity between 10 and 15 years old and reproduce every six to eight years on average.
Great Ape Team Leader, Simon Childs, adds, “We’re all very proud. Kibriah is a very loving mum and she’s doing such a great job. She is holding the baby very close so we won’t know if it’s a boy or a girl just yet. When we find out the sex, we can then start to think of a name for him or her. At this stage we don’t mind what sex it is, we’re just happy to have another healthy infant.”
“Molly is already a firm favorite with our visitors so we expect Kibriah’s newest arrival will too become very popular with visitors, and in time become a playmate for Molly.”
See and read more after the fold.
On October 21, Twycross Zoo in the UK welcomed three South American Bush Dogs, the first litter of Bush Dog pups to be born at the zoo in almost a decade!
First time parents Japura and Aztec are doing a superb job caring for their new offspring. The pups have so far remained in their nest, but are now beginning to venture into their outdoor viewing area a few times a day as they explore their new surroundings.
Zookeeper Chris Simpson comments, “When we arrived on the morning of the August 21st, we knew Japura had given birth overnight, but it took a week or so to confirm there were three pups in the litter. They are yet to be sexed so we haven’t got names for the new arrivals at the moment.”
Bush Dog pups are born with their eyes closed, and for the first few weeks stay in their nest where both parents will protect, clean and help transport them.
Senior Zoo Keeper Kirsten Wicks adds, “Before the babies were born, Aztec was quite possessive with food and always made sure he ate before Japura. However, now we’ve noticed that when we feed Aztec he’ll take the food and present it to Japura, and then wait for her to eat before he does. For a first time dad he’s doing a great job caring for Japura, as well as the pups.”
Team Leader Julian Chapman says, “The fact that these animals have produced their first litter within a year of moving into their new enclosure is a testament to the thought and effort that the staff at Twycross Zoo are putting into the redevelopment of the animal enclosures. Hopes are high for several other species such as the Amur leopards and prairie marmots which have also had their enclosure redeveloped this year.”
Bush Dogs are classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as Near Threatened. Their threats are poorly understood, but include loss of habitat to development for farming, loss of prey species, and an increase in diseases affecting canines.
Four Meerkat pups have been born at Twycross Zoo in England, and the tiny new arrivals have already proved a huge hit with visitors! The pups were born on May 11 to mum Tallulah after an 11-week gestation period. While staff were keeping an eye out for pups after spotting a heavily pregnant Tallulah, quadruplets came as a welcome surprise to everyone.
Julian Chapman, Team Leader of Large Mammals, commented, “This is the largest litter of pups we’ve had in a few years. They are all doing very well and mum is doing a great job caring for them, despite probably having her hands full! At four weeks old, the pups are still feeding from mum and will become fully weaned and eating solids at around 60 days old.”
Meerkats are part of the mongoose family and live in large families in burrows in the desert. They are highly social animals and live groups called mobs -- and family members are very much involved in raising pups. Julian added: “Aunties and older sisters will help mum out with babysitting whilst she goes off to feed, and other members of the family will stand on their hind legs keeping a look out for predators. The pups spent the first few weeks in their underground burrows and have just started venturing out."
The pups have been a huge hit with visitors and are on view now, but you can see them right now by clicking on the video below!
See more pictures after the jump:
Keepers at Twycross Zoo are celebrating the arrival of a baby Crowned Lemur, born on April 11. Experienced mom Rose is doing a superb job. Infants are initially carried on the mother’s front but as they grow heavier they are moved onto her back. The father takes and active role in parenting as well. Tony Dobbs, Section Head of Primates, said: “The baby arrived a few days earlier than we had expected but both mum and baby are doing very well. While Rose is looking after the newborn, the father, Rik, has taken on the role of the proud, protective father.”
In the wild the Crowned Lemur is confined to a small patch of forest in Madagascar and listed on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable. There their population is decreasing because their habitat is in rapid decline principally due to heavy mining, illegal logging and hunting for food.
Zoological Director, Sharon Redrobe, added: “The Crowned Lemur, like all the lemur species, is under threat in the wild and therefore the role of the captive population is becoming more and more important. A successful birth such as this is a huge boost to the conservation of this species.”
You can get a glimpse to the baby tucked into mom's hip on this video:
Read more about the baby's family at the zoo and find Crowned Lemur facts, after the fold:
A baby Western Lowland Gorilla born at the United Kingdom’s Twycross Zoo on January 3 adds a third generation to their already close-knit Gorilla group.
Ozala was born at Twycross Zoo in 1994. The newborn joins a family unit made up of father Oumbi and grandmother, Biddi. Ozala's half-sister Asante will also provide a helping hand as the young Gorilla grows up.
Charlotte added: "The baby will be carried around by mum for the next couple of years but will, of course, gradually become more independent, just going back to Ozala for reassurance and comfort.”
Listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN, fewer than 100,000 Western Lowland Gorillas remain in the wild, bringing the species dangerously close to extinction. Hunting, habitat loss and the Ebola virus have contributed to the species’ decline.
Zoological Director Sharon Redrobe added: "Because the Western Lowland Gorilla is such an endangered species every Gorilla birth is important, and this infant represents another vital contribution to the European Endangered Species breeding programme and to the conservation of this species.”
See more photos below the fold.