Twycross Zoo is a medium to large zoo near Norton Juxta Twycross, Leicestershire. The zoo has the largest collection of monkeys and apes in the Western World, and in 2006 re-launched itself as “Twycross Zoo ? The World Primate Centre”.
Twycross Zoo was established by Molly Badham and Nathalie Evans in 1963. The pair had been looking for a suitable site to expand their zoological collection, having outgrown their original site at Hints, Staffordshire where they had set up Hints Zoological Gardens in 1954. The zoo was initially based at the former rectory in the village of Norton Juxta Twycross. Having long since ceased functioning as a rectory, the house became a private residence known as Norton Grange. Badham and Evans converted the 12 acres of gardens, outbuildings, stables and farm buildings into a zoo.
The zoo first opened to the public on Sunday 26 May 1963; the opening ceremony was performed by Jean Morton, a local television personality, accompanied by her popular children’s TV puppet show characters Tingha and Tucker.
In 1972 the zoo became a charitable trust and is renowned as a specialist primate centre with a wide variety of primates including all four types of great ape, boasting the UK’s only group of bonobo. Twycross Zoo has become known for breeding primates and has recorded first UK births for thirteen different species including the bonobo, siamang, agile gibbon and woolly monkey, contributing to numerous conservation breeding programmes.