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Twycross Zoo Book: Molly's Zoo

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by snowleopard, 24 Aug 2014.

  1. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I just finished reading the book "Molly's Zoo" by Molly Badham and her partner Nathalie Evans, with Maureen Lawless also a co-author. Rather than give a full review of the ups and downs of 50 years of being involved with raising primates, I would like to point out a few items of note.

    Does anyone know if the book was written over a long period of time? It would seem normal that the publication date of 2000 means that it was written around 1998 and 1999 but I was a tad surprised at the views that Molly Badham had on a few subjects. On at least 3-4 occasions in the book she becomes defensive about putting clothes on chimpanzees, or using the apes in the world of advertisement. She states on page 84: "Chimps, like children, respond equally to praise and correction and they were almost as proud of their achievements as we were. That is why it saddens me when people describe giving them the opportunity to expand their experiences and horizons by teaching them skills as exploitation." Her constant comparison between chimps and children throughout the first half of the book is intriguing, as she seems to view the apes as little kids running around and sharing her bed, kitchen and clothes!

    On page 17 she says in reference to a chimpanzee: "Dressing her in clothes also provided another entertainment for Sue, and anyone who criticizes dressing up chimps has obviously never witnessed the enormous pleasure they get from their clothes and how individual they are in their preferences for different items of clothing." Since the book was published in 2000, it seems as if Molly was at least 25 years out of date when it comes to putting frilly dresses and blue jeans on chimpanzees.

    The book was an enjoyable read, full of mishaps and surprises, and it seemed as if Twycross Zoo was put together via duct tape and super-glue as there was constantly a lack of funds or issues with construction. The zoo opened with toilets that barely worked due to a lack of water and many of the animal exhibits in the early days seemed to be last-minute events as apes would be hand-raised in the main house before being allowed back into their enclosures. I breezed through the book in no time at all but was genuinely shocked to learn that even in the year 2000 Molly Badham was quite defensive over her outdated methods of dealing with chimpanzees. She did wonders over the years and had a big heart but it seems as if she just viewed her animals as her own little kids.
     
  2. Animal Friendly

    Animal Friendly Well-Known Member

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    Molly's Zoo was published in 2000, it is based on a previous book, "Chimps with everything" published in 1979 which was updated up to 2000 when Molly's Zoo was published, a B.B.C. television series by the same name was also broadcast 1999/2000. I can understand your view that Miss Badham appeared to have treated the chimps as little children, perhaps she did, but I think it should be remembered that her heart was very much in the right place when it came to animals, all animals in fact not just chimps and other great apes. Years ago her T.V. commercials with the young chimps were very popular indeed, nobody seamed to question chimps being dressed up for this, it was all part of the fun, a different era.
     
  3. zoogiraffe

    zoogiraffe Well-Known Member

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    The Book is an update and re-hash of a book of the same title produced in the lates 1980's I believe.With history airbrushed to make things look better,like all the baby Smooth-coated Otters that were abandoned by their mother,successfully being hand reared in the first book this wasn't the case!
     
  4. Jane Doe

    Jane Doe Well-Known Member

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    The book wasn't written over a long period it was written late 1989/1999. A lot of the chimps were donated because in the 40's/50's and 60's you could have exotic wild animals as pets but then in 1976 The Dangerous Wild Animals Act came into force which meant everyone had to have a licence also people found that as chimps got older people couldn't cope with them because as they got older they became stronger and more unpredictable.

    You mentioned Sue well she was one that was donated and Sue loved clothes and dressing up because her previous owners used to dress her up and Sue loved shoes, again because she was a pet she picked up the habit of smoking which Miss Badham and Miss Evans did not like her doing, no matter how much Miss Badham and Miss Evans tried they could not stop her they tried everything but there is nothing worse than a person with a habit well a chimp with a habit is far worse so their hands were tied.

    Both Miss Badham and Miss Evans had NO Children so the zoo was their family and the chimps were their children and please note chimps could have tantrums just like children but 10 times worse.

    As for teaching them skills trust me you don't have to teach them anything they learnt things themselves e.g. they would watch a child picking their nose so they would copy, watching people spit again they would copy, I even know of one chimp that learnt how to pick a pocket trust me he was not taught how to do it, he worked it out himself he was very good the person did not know it had happened the chimp in question was so happy he had done it and what happened next was amazing.

    I personally have seen an orang-utan put a jumper on she had never been taught how to do it so where did that come from ? I know the person that had donated the cloths for the chimps, and the orangs could not stop laughing to see her husbands jumper on an orang.

    Chimps get very prowd of things they do and they like to show you what they have done and most of it is without being shown.

    Going back to Sue because she was a pet she would have chosen the clothes herself. Sue didn't like dull colours she liked bright colours and she loved her shoes.

    Twycross Zoo was built on a shoe string, a lot of the pens were farm buildings altered to suit for example old chimp house was the milking shed.

    The original zoo at Hints was not big enough so Miss Badham and Miss Evans had 2 choices part with their animals or move so with the help of family and the PG Tips adverts they brought Norton Grange and that was the beginnings of Twycross Zoo.

    Could I suggest you read Chimps with Everything also written by Miss Badham, Miss Evans and Maureen Lawless, ISBN Number 0491021585 and that was the start of the Twycross zoo.
     
  5. pipaluk

    pipaluk Well-Known Member

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    Times change! I really can't see the point in criticising Miss Badham for things that were done and considered acceptable 40-50 years ago!
    Lets face it, 40-50 years ago there were great apes living in conditions no better than in the previous century & even ZSL was still having chimps teaparties!
    Time to give Miss Badham & Twycross a break I would suggest!
     
  6. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Fair point, as 40-50 years ago times were indeed much different. My original statement was that if the book was published in the year 2000 then Molly Badham seemed decades out of touch with reality as she still declared that putting clothes on chimpanzees was totally fine. If the 2000 book was simply an update on the 1979 book then the difference of 21 years does change things for sure. I was simply questioning when the book was actually written as her regard of chimps as "little children" seemed very bizarre. I'm surprised that some of her ideas still made it into the 2000 book as it certainly shows how old-fashioned she was in many ways.
     
  7. Animal Friendly

    Animal Friendly Well-Known Member

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    You are correct, time has moved on, it was seeing the chimps tea party at Regents Park that made Miss Badham and Miss Evans acquire their first two, Sue and Micky, and they just had the pet shop in Sutton Coalfield then, As for giving Miss Badham a break, perhaps the current management of this zoo could take notice also of your advice when they are giving newspaper and television interviews!
     
  8. Animal Friendly

    Animal Friendly Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps she was a bit old fashioned in her ways, but it is to be remembered that she was still running the zoo up till she was ninety years of age, no mean achievement!
     
  9. OrangePerson

    OrangePerson Well-Known Member

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    I thought they were very clear in saying it was a different time but things are different now.
     
  10. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I would have thought there was an easy solution. Don't give the chimp any cigarettes. Done.
     
  11. Animal Friendly

    Animal Friendly Well-Known Member

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    It is not an easy solution just to stop giving a chimp cigarettes when they are a smoker, they become extremely agitated if denied the weed. Monkey World in Dorset had an ex beach photography chimp who was a smoker, and his smoking had to be reduced gradually until he quit completely.
     
  12. Jane Doe

    Jane Doe Well-Known Member

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    Well Said I personally think when Miss Redrobe brought it all up she didn't help the zoo, it was a bad idea.
     
  13. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    Ever known anybody who's tried to quit cold turkey?

    Inflicting it on a chimp would border on animal abuse, I'd reckon.
     
  14. Jane Doe

    Jane Doe Well-Known Member

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    I was told if Sue was denied cigarettes it was not good I mean it is hard for some people to quit the cigarettes
     
  15. SHAVINGTONZOO

    SHAVINGTONZOO Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I think we gathered that ....

    :cool:
     
  16. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Well-Known Member

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    One of the many reasons I like Zoochat is that this may be the only place in the world where people have civilized debates about the best way to stop chimpanzees from smoking.