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Book 62: Molly's Zoo: Monkey Mischief at Twycross by Molly Badham and Natalie Evans

Book 62: Molly's Zoo: Monkey Mischief at Twycross.
Author: Molly Badham and Natalie Evans with Maureen Lawless, 2000.
Genre: Memoir. Animals. Conservation. Non Fiction.
Other Details: Hardback. 254 pages.

The story of Molly Badham and her beloved Twycross Zoo. Starting with a rescued pet chimpanzee called Sue, Molly and her partner Natalie built up the UK's best primate collection. They also share the distinction of having been the first female zookeepers in the country. This provides a fascinating account of the early years of Twycross Zoo. - snagged from Goodreads.

I found this a very interesting account of how the passion of two women for animals led to them first housing a number of rescued primates in their home and then to build a small up collection throughout the 1950s. In 1962 they bought a Victorian rectory with land in the Leicestershire countryside and opened Twycross Zoo, which has since grown to become a world primate centre actively taking part in breeding, conservation and education programmes for primates and other animals.

I enjoyed reading of the early years of how Molly and Natalie slowly built their collection, learning as they went along, as well as some of the highlights of the zoo's early years. From 1956 some of the chimps became celebrities when Brooke Bond used them to advertisements for their PG Tips tea, providing valuable funding that allowed the zoo to grow. The memoir contains some very funny stories and plenty of photographs of the early years. It also charts how the growing concerns about habitat and conservation as well as studies in animal behaviour have changed the way animals are treated in captivity.

When I started volunteering at Twycross Zoo last summer in their Education Department I obtained a second hand copy in order to increase my knowledge of the early history of the zoo. It was out of print at the time though recently I was pleased to see that the zoo's gift shop now has a new paperback edition on sale to visitors. I took ages to read as I was only reading it at odd moments when I was on my own and things were quiet.
Tags: animals, memoir, non-fiction
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