Chief Executive’s Blog

May 28, 2012 § Leave a comment


The big news this week across the country has been our glorious weather, and everyone is asking how our animals across the Highland Wildlife Park and Edinburgh Zoo are enjoying the sunshine.

The gentoo penguins at Edinburgh Zoo have delighted in being showered with cold water, and our two male koalas have been out into their external enclosures.  Usually our Scottish weather is too cold for Yabbra and Goonaroo and they have special climate controlled enclosures, but when the temperatures rise to the late teens the pair come outside into an amphitheatre, complete with climbing frame for the koalas and a seated area for our visitors.  Also, whilst Yang Guang the giant panda loves to rest in the shade, Tian Tian our female has turned out to be a little more of a sun worshipper, spending time outdoors on the highest platform of her climbing frame.

Walker and Arktos at the Highland Wildlife Park have been more chilled out than usual in the warmer weather, but even polar bears in the wild are well adapted to higher summer temperatures in their natural climate.  They are alternating between catching the sun and then jumping into their pond to splash around. Their large five acre enclosure also means they have lots of cool spots.  Other animals, such as Arctic fox duo Elf and Houdini, are proving partial to frozen pieces of meat and fruit, and the lucky Japanese macaques are having their daily fresh fruit served chilled.

On Wednesday evening we held the Society’s AGM and over 80 of our members attended.  I enjoyed having the opportunity to spend more time with those who came along and had the chance to speak to many people after the event.  It was a pleasure to show a film of our new CEO Chris West introducing himself and the evening also included Iain Valentine, our director of research and conservation, giving a talk on panda breeding.

I’m delighted to say the evening saw us make a number of new appointments to the board.  Roger Wheater, a previous chief executive of RZSS, has remained and is assisting with the development of Edinburgh Zoo’s Centenary plans for 2013; Peter Budd also remains and his experience in dealing with the Chinese authorities continues to prove invaluable to us, alongside his engineering background which is very relevant to the redevelopment of our penguin enclosure.  We are also pleased to welcome on board John Fitzgerald, a member and patron whose passion for the Zoo and RZSS was very much apparent on the night.

I’m also pleased to share that we have made a number of new appointments to the Society.  The appointments include Laura Condie, joining us as Head of Visitor Services, Gregor Kirk as Site Facilities/Projects Manager and David Shepherd as Head of Commercial.  We look forward to welcoming everyone to the team and to the valuable contribution they will make to the RZSS.

Love Your Zoo Week started this weekend just gone, and to celebrate we’re releasing a selection of videos that feature various staff across the RZSS from today.  It’s a great chance to find out more about some of the more unusual roles we have across the Society including our blacksmith, electrician and the person who collects and transports our animals between various zoos.

Lastly, thanks to all of you who came to our recent plant sale.  Organised by our gardens team, once a year they sell cuttings of plants grown on site at Edinburgh Zoo.  The event raised over £340.

Thank you for reading,

Best wishes,

Hugh Roberts

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