Posted by: musinganorak | July 4, 2010

Twycrossing them off the list

Today was the day we took our trip to Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire. Unfortunately, due to illness, our friends were unable to join us. I hope you’re feeling better Ella.

Upon arrival you are faced with the zoo’s new Himalaya centre which houses the shop and a large cafeteria as well as having a full length glass wall that forms one side of the new Snow Leopard Uncia uncia enclosure. You have to pass through this area in order to reach the main zoo entrance. It is still a work in progress and a fine example of how zoos everywhere are trying to improve animal accommodation.

The overall impression once inside is the same one that you get with a lot of zoos worldwide, namely that they are all still in the long transition period from animal menagerie to centres of education and conservation. There are still a lot of the old style cages that date back to when zoos first appeared, but there are also an awful lot of new, spacious and purpose built animal houses and exhibitions. Another sign of the move away from simple animal collections to concerted conservation efforts can be seen in the signs by what was the Asiatic Lion Panthera leo persica enclosure. These inform visitors that the lions have been moved to another zoo for captive breeding purposes and in their stead the zoo has taken possession of a couple of Striped Hyenas Hyaena hyaena sultana.

Star of the show was definitely Ganesh Vijay the 11 month old Asian Elephant Elephas maximus calf.  His mother and aunties are still highly protective of him and there was much vocalistion between them, and indeed one mock charge at the barriers whilst we were watching. We returned for a second look later in the day and this time the keepers were in with the group and there seemed to be a lot of playful interaction between the keepers and their elephants. Some of the elephants also enjoyed an extended play time in the large pool, including little Ganesh.

My one major gripe about the zoo, though, is the signage. At best the signs for each enclosure are poor, but more often than not were non-existent. I would have thought that with modern technology it shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with signs that at least picture and name what is in each enclosure. We were lucky in that in a lot of cases we were familiar enough with the species to know what we were looking at but I’m sure that not everybody would have been. Surely one of the foremost functions of a modern zoo is to educate, and the starting point of that is to clearly tell people what it is they are looking at.

But enough of all this waffling I hear you cry. What about the list?

I did indeed take along the list I mentioned in my previous post, but, be honest, did you expect anything different?

It listed 78 mammal species, 90 bird species, 16 reptile species, 2 amphibian species and 3 invertebrate species. There were some species seen that didn’t seem to be  on the list, 2 mammal and 2 reptile. Of these totals we, and obviously when I say we what I mean is I, positively identified 70 mammals, 39 birds, 12 reptiles and 2 invertebrates. An overall hit rate of  123 species out of 193 or 63.7%. Quite satisfying, but not very satisfying.

I don’t currently have a list of animals that I have seen in captivity. The question is, should I start one? What do you think the answer is….?

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