|CHIMPS' TEA PARTY | Molly has played mother to chimps
for over 40 years|
Molly Badham is a surrogate mum - with a difference.
For over 40 years Molly has played mother to baby
chimps in Twycross Zoo.
40 years after opening and Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire
is still going strong, as is its founder, Molly Badham.
Although in her eighties, Molly is still playing mother
to an energetic brood of baby chimps who scamper around her home in nappies.
|Molly plays a
vital role in the conservation of Bonobo chimps|
Her latest 'babies' are the increasingly rare Bonobo monkeys,
the closest ape to us. Just one gene separates them from humans.
The Bonobos are threatened with extinction in their native
Rwanda, where the bush meat trade has seen the numbers fall.
Twycross Zoo took in its first pair of Bonobos six years
ago and now has a group of ten.
"The species is so intelligent they need constant care
and attention," says Molly.
|Once very popular,
the PG Tips adverts are now considered bad taste by many|
In its early days, Twycross Zoo was less well known for
its conservation work and more for the mini celebrities it housed.
The Twycross chimps were made famous in PG Tips adverts
where they were dressed up in clothes, rode bikes and not surprisingly
- drank tea!
Today, this is viewed unfavourably by many, but Molly
assures us that the chimps, like all demanding celebrities, were treated
with the utmost care and attention. Molly.says;
"They were very proud of their clothes … I remember one
wanted to wear the shoes it had all the time,"
"Another could pour tea without spilling it. And
they loved riding bicycles. Tea parties used to be a highlight both for
the chimps and visitors to the zoo."
- Twycross Zoo opened in 1963
- The zoo attracts over 450,000 visitors a year
- The zoo occupies over 40 acres and is set in open
- In 1972 the zoo became a charitable trust concentrating
on conservation and education
- The zoo takes part in many captive breeding programmes
for endangered animals
- About three quarters of the animals housed at Twycross
are officially classed as endangered species
- The zoo houses approximately 1,000 animals
- In 1994 the zoo had the first Bonobo born in Britain
Molly however, is fully aware how this activity is frowned
"Attitudes have changed now about what you do with
animals. But I do know my chimps loved it."
Twycross Zoo is now pioneering the survival of a species.
"If we are going to have to have captive breeding then
we have to ensure they have the most natural and fulfilled life possible,"
says Stella Marsden, who works to rescue chimps in the Gambia.
Over the last 40 years, Molly's specialist care has been
vital to the chimps survival.
Reflecting on the future Molly says she doesn’t do as
much as she used to at the zoo, but the operation would go on without
"I don’t regret any of the last forty years. My only regret
is I didn’t start the zoo earlier," says Molly