March begins!

March 5, 2009 § Leave a comment

The arrival of March has seen plenty going on with the animals here at Edinburgh Zoo!


As mentioned in last week’s blog, our Gentoo and Rockhopper Penguins have been keeping themselves very busy with the start of their breeding season. However, the King Penguins here at Edinburgh Zoo can be seen doing something altogether different – nothing! Before the start of their breeding season the King Penguins go through their annual moult. At this time the King Penguins begin to look rather large and fluffy! This is due to a new coat of feathers beginning to grow in underneath the old coat. Essentially these penguins are wearing a double coat of feathers! However, they can’t jump in their pool to cool off, as during this time their feathers are loose and therefore not waterproof. Once their new feathers have grown in the Penguins then lose their old feathers in patches, meaning that they can look rather scruffy!


A King Penguin rests her puffy body at the start of her annual moult

 A King Penguin rests her puffy body at the start of her annual moult


During this time the penguins will live off their body fat reserves, as they are unable to swim and catch any fish to eat. Throughout the full 3 – 4 week moult a King Penguin can lose up to 50% of its body fat reserves! They therefore don’t waste any energy exerting themselves on needless activity, but prefer to stand still throughout most of their moult.

If you are in the zoo in the next few weeks look out for the King Penguins looking puffed up and rather scruffy!


On the 26th February our family of Japanese Serow left Edinburgh Zoo for the Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie. This is a part the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s plan to locate animals from particular habitats to the park which can best suit their needs. As the Highland Wildlife Park is located further north than Edinburgh Zoo, and experiences much colder temperatures, animals from Mountain and Tundra habitats are to be relocated there. The Japanese Serow, who can be found wild in the mountainous woodlands of the Japanese island, Honshu, have therefore been moved to a large enclosure at the Highland Wildlife Park which replicates their natural environment. We hope that the family of three, who gave birth to their first youngster at Edinburgh Zoo only last summer, will be happy in their new home!


A Japanese Serow peers out from its hiding place

 A Japanese Serow peers out from its hiding place


It has also been announced (as you may have read in the press this week!) that our Polar Bear, Mercedes, is to move up to the Highland Wildlife Park. She will be moving into the area currently inhabited by the European Wolves, after the British Army have constructed a new purpose-built enclosure, just for her! The enclosure will be around four acres in size, making it the largest polar bear enclosure in Europe. It will have a large natural pool and will provide her with a natural tundra environment. Mercedes is now 28 years old, and we hope that she will be able to retire peacefully in her new enclosure. You can expect to see her in the Highland Wildlife Park before the end of the year.


Mercedes, our Polar Bear, reclines in her current enclosure

Mercedes, our Polar Bear, reclines in her current enclosure



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