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View of outdoor chimp enclosure

View of outdoor chimp enclosure
zoogiraffe, 19 Aug 2016
    • snowleopard
      Various news articles have stated that Wingham is a for-profit, unaccredited zoological facility that has never housed chimpanzees before. A Boston-based animal rights group (NEAVS) filed a lawsuit to stop the transfer and the question of whether the transfer affects the Endangered Species Act is discussed in the article below (to cite just one of many reports):

      Controversial Plan Would Send Lab Chimps to Unaccredited Zoo

      I personally think that it is commendable that the chimps are leaving their current environment and their new living space will be a vast improvement. However, erecting a basic-looking cage with a metal roof and dominant white cement walls is something that I would expect at a for-profit, unaccredited establishment and that is unfortunate. There are old-fashioned cages housing chimps at a few unaccredited, "home-made" American zoos (West Coast Game Park Safari, DeYoung Family Zoo, GW Exotic) but a basic chimpanzee cage is virtually unheard of at non-profit, accredited, renowned zoos in the USA. All these zoos have chimps: Miami, Busch Gardens, Lowry Park, North Carolina, Knoxville, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Gladys Porter, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Detroit, Lincoln Park, Sedgwick County, Kansas City, Saint Louis, Rio Grande, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and Oregon.

      From the list above one could argue that only Oakland has a similar-looking chimp cage to the one recently built at Wingham and the entire Wingham facility (while a huge improvement for the lab apes) seems a couple of decades behind the times. Am I being too harsh or is it valid to expect more out of a great ape exhibit in the 21st century?
    • Zooplantman
      I feel that we must be realistic. Not every facility can spend millions on an aesthetically pleasing exhibit. Is this really so different from the gorilla cage at Columbus Zoo? If they can accommodate lab chimps well and give them great care and proper social rehab then the looks are irrelevant. Although, of course, there are already a couple of facilities here in the USA that are already set up for that task.

      For my money, the activity opportunities appear sparse here.
    • Maguari
      That word doesn't really have a meaning in the UK though; not in this context. It's like saying there's no congressman for Kent - there isn't because the system is different.

      You are inspected and licensed to run a zoo by the local council - that is the only 'accreditation' that is needed or available. Wingham is technically just as 'accredited' as Chester or London.

      (I believe EAZA is trying to start an AZA-style accreditation programme but it's certainly not universally applied yet)
    • Pertinax
      I believe Wingham was also described as a 'Roadside Zoo' which again doesn't apply in the UK, we just don't have them, although there are/have been small, badly run or otherwise basic collections in the UK too. I don't think Wingham comes into that category though.

      For Chimps there are really only two main exhibit-types available-the covered cage style or the open plan/deep ditch or water moated style. I would prefer the former anytime as although less attractive it gives far more climbing area and cage space that can be used. Wingham is also a relatively small zoo so expensive moated systems would probably be out of the question cost-wise here.

      Remember Jane Goodall has given this enclosure her seal of approval- I doubt she could be 'bought' to do so unless she really did think it was suitable.
    • ThylacineAlive
      Wingham was one of my favorite small collections incidentally:p

      While the enclosure set-up is simple, I think it's certainly much better than many open-topped enclosures for apes that we have in the US (and elsewhere in the UK). As it was described to me while over there, a cage done well gives primate enclosures a "3D effect", meaning they can use the bars to climb around. Now we could go through the "Aspinall-Gorilla cage argument" all over again (I will discuss those enclosures in my trip write-up, though) as to whether that justifies a well-done cage being used for Apes, but personally I've never seen animals (gibbons through gorillas) so active and behaving so naturally in open-topped enclosures. One thing that I think is missed in this photo is how absolutely enormous this enclosure is, both in ground-space and in height. I would say the indoor area alone is larger than some outdoor chimps enclosures. Not to mention there's also a separate outdoor yard and indoor space.

      Now while I haven't visited most of the zoos you listed, Snowleopard, I have visited Lowry Park and honestly their open-topped enclosure has to be the worst Ape enclosure I've ever seen. It is definitely one that could quite possibly fit inside of Wingham's indoors and I'd take this one any day. I hope common sense comes through and they get the animals.

      As for the zoo on a whole, it's a very nice places despite the heavy use of cages. Off the top of my head I honestly can't think of any particular bit of the zoo I found to be poor. Not where the cages are concerned anyhow. I think North Americans for the most part definitely have this mind set that cages and chain-link fenced enclosures are bad- and I'm not entirely innocent of this. However, one thing I definitely learned while over there is not these types of enclosures, if done right, are far from bad. Sure the viewing isn't the best, but certain species can often times being larger and better enriched environments than they could with open-topped enclosures. I would certainly say most climbing species are better off with a good cage than they are a moated yard with a few climbing sticks (which is what a lot of US enclosures are like, especially in AZA-accredited zoos).

    • Pertinax
      I have not visited here but just looking at the many photos of this brand new enclosure convinced me it was perfectly suitable to receive Chimps, and much better than many enclosures in larger Zoos. I felt any suggestion of Wingham as a 'roadside zoo' was also ridiculous- we don't have them in the UK but no roadside zoo would build an enclosure on this scale anyway.
      From photos I am still surprised at just how bad some of the enclosures for Apes in some of the big USA zoos are- I saw a few for myself decades ago when I visited the US- one or two were little better than prisons. Those are probably long gone now but others no doubt remain. That's not to say all enclosures in Europe are top class- they aren't- Just to name two examples in the UK-despite commendable attempts at makeovers, Dudley's Ape/Orangutan House (which I don't think you saw) is terrible, and Twycross' Chimp accomodation still leaves a lot to be desired, though a new house is on the cards there.

      For a small Zoo I think Wingham have, economically speaking, pushed the boat out(i.e. done a good job) here- it may lack the aethsetic appeal of more expensive enclosures in bigger zoos, but which themselves aren't necessarily any better for the animals- but IMO it is perfectly suitable. I hope they still get their Chimps.

      (The one thing about Wingham that doesn't impress me is their website- several mistaken identities present in photos/animal descriptions.)
    • ThylacineAlive
      I did not visit Dudley, no. However, I would definitely agree on Twycross' chimp indoors.

    • Pertinax
      What you didn't see at Twycross was the range of cages where most of those Chimps had been living until a couple of years ago- these have now been converted into the enclosure for the Leopards. These were even worse than the current houses.
    • ThylacineAlive
      Yeah those were pointed out to me, and while they're all connected now, since the walls are still up it's easy to see just how horrible of an exhibit that must have been.

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    Wingham Wildlife Park
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