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Funding boost for Twycross Zoo ape projects
Bonobo at Twycross Zoo
Twycross are involved in the conservation of wild bonobos and cao vit gibbons

Two ape conservation projects supported by Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire have been selected for additional funding.

The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) is bringing together zoos across the world to contribute to the continued survival of wild apes.

The campaign aims to create €1 million fund, part of which will supply Twycross' two projects working with bonobos and cao vit gibbons.

In the wild, ape numbers are threatened by hunting, deforestation and disease.

Nearly every species of ape, from gorillas to gibbons, are classed as either endangered or critically endangered.

It's all about conserving natural habitat and keeping these animals out in the wild
Sharon Redrobe, Twycross Zoo

Both projects are designed to investigate ways in which threatened ape species can be better protected in their native habitat and co-exist more successfully with the local population.

Sharon Redrobe, Director of Life Sciences at Twycross Zoo said it was great to have the added financial backing.

"It's much more money than Twycross could put in.

"We've been as generous as we can be with these projects over the last few years but being able to access the EAZA money where we get a share of the million is obviously much better.

"It's all about conserving their natural habitat and keeping these animals out in the wild."

Protecting bonobos

Twycross is the only zoo in Britain which cares for bonobos, the rare pygmy chimpanzees which are the closest living relatives to humans.

Bonobo at Twycross Zoo
Twycross is the only zoo in Britain where you can see bonobos

Since 2008 the zoo have invested £140,000 to support the conservation of the species.

One of the EAZA's chosen organisations is Awely, which supported by Twycross, runs the 'Green Gap' campaign in the Democratic Republic of Congo; the only country where wild bonobos can still be found.

Rangers have been working with local people to teach them about the threats faced by the bonobos and to helping to introduce new farming methods to reduce their dependency on the trade in bushmeat.

Due to Awely's support bonobos can now live naturally in a 12,000km2 area of unprotected dense forest.

Gibbon conservation

The second project chosen by EAZA is involved in the conservation of one of the world's most endangered primates in China and Vietnam.

There are just over 100 cao vit gibbons left in the wild.

Twycross Zoo has been involved in the Fauna & Flora International project to protect the gibbons.

This has involved carrying on population surveys, providing protected living areas and working with local communities to lessen the damage to the apes' habitat.

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