Twycross zoo has the distinction of having the largest collection of primates in the Western World including all four species of Great Apes; gorilla, chimpanzee, bonobo and orangutan. Of the 150 species of animals housed at the zoo many are considered either endangered or threatened. The zoo participates in numerous breeding programs and has produced many firsts in captive breeding. Malone was the product of just such a program but on the happy day that the new baby arrived his mother did not bond with the infant. This is a common problem among new parents living in zoos. Zoo keepers, veterinarians and scientists are still trying to understand the reasons but they speculate that the lack of a normally functioning social group means they have nowhere to learn the skills of motherhood.
In 2000, when it became apparent that Malone had been rejected by her mother the zoo’s director and co-founder Molly Badham brought him home. It was there that her 9-year old French bulldog immediately began snuggling and licking the baby orangutan. Being the constant companion and confidant of the zoo director meant that Bugsy had been around a lot of different animals and according to Badham he was always crazy about the baby animals.
Now considered one of the top centers for primate research and breeding in the world, Twycross Zoo was established in 1963 by Badham and Nathalie Evans. The two, who had once been rival pet shop owners were looking for a larger site to house their zoological collection on their 3/4 acre property. They borrowed twelve thousand pounds from the bank in 1962, bought the 80 acre former rectory and opened Twycross zoo the following year. Both Badham and Evans had a special love of primates from the start and trained several of their chimps to appear in TV commercials and films.