Spring is on the way…

March 4, 2009 § Leave a comment


 

In the last week we have all been enjoying the warmer weather and lighter nights and it seems that spring is truly on the horizon. Here at Edinburgh Zoo many of the animals have also been reacting to the change in season!

 

Just last week some of the European Sousliks were seen out and about in their enclosure, next door to the Pygmy Hippos. Sousliks are ground-burrowing squirrels, and hibernate throughout winter, while food is scarce. Their emergence from their underground burrows signals the end of the bleak winter season, and the beginning of spring. During the summer, the Sousliks can be seen leaving their burrow at intervals to forage on seeds, shoots, roots and sometimes invertebrates. While the group forages an appointed Sentinel keeps watch for predators, and whistles to alert the rest of the group to any signs of danger. The group can then scurry back to the safety of their under-ground burrows until the coast is once again clear. Keep an eye out for them in the coming weeks as we expect them to begin making more appearances as the temperature rises.

 

A Souslik tucks into some fresh apple after a long winter in hibernation

 A Souslik tucks into some fresh apple after a long winter in hibernation

 

On the 25th February the Rockhopper and Gentoo Penguin nest rings were laid out for the start of these species’ breeding seasons. The penguins have reacted excitedly to the arrival of the nest rings, displaying many of the behaviours they we would expect a healthy breeding colony to show.

Look out for the male penguins carefully fetching stones used to build up their nests. You may even spot them trying to steal stones from one another’s nests! Then look out for their presentation of the stone to the female at the nest, and the ‘bow hissing’ behaviour that follows. (The penguins bow and hiss at one another as a sign of their mutual companionship and affection). However, also watch out for the occasional disapproving female, who upon receiving a new stone for her nest, decides it is simply not good enough! She will not bow hiss to her mate, but instead will pick up the stone and throw it out of the nest with her beak!

 

A male Gentoo Penguin picks out one of his nest stones

 A male Gentoo Penguin picks out one of his nest stones

 

These behaviours should continue throughout March, and we will expect the penguins to begin laying eggs in late March or early April. We will keep you updated here on their progress!

 

We are pleased to announce yet more primate births within the zoo! On 23rd January a male L’hoests monkey was born. The youngster can be seen clinging onto its mother’s back in the Monkey House.

 

A young L’hoest Monkey poses for the camera!

 A young L’hoest Monkey poses for the camera!

 

The New-world monkeys of the Magic Forest have been unstoppable this week, giving birth to a Goeldi’s monkey, 2 Cotton Top Tamarins and a Pygmy Marmoset! The sex of these babies is as yet unknown, and they have not been named. However, we will keep you updated on their progress right here!

 

Finally, we waved goodbye to our Capybara last week who left the collection for good. Capybara are classified as ‘Least Concern’ by the IUCN Redlist and are therefore not a conservation priority.

 

A Darwin’s Rhea shows off its impressively large wings, used for helping it run exceptionally fast rather than for flight

 A Darwin’s Rhea shows off its impressively large wings, used for helping it run exceptionally fast rather than for flight

 

A pair of Darwin’s Rhea, a ‘Near Threatened’ flightless bird from South America, have now been moved into the old Capybara enclosure, where it is hoped they will be able to breed successfully. The keepers will be waiting expectantly for the female to lay an egg in the coming spring! So do keep an eye out for one if you are visiting the zoo in the near future!

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