The Clocks Change…

March 24, 2009 § Leave a comment

This Saturday will see the clocks going forward an hour in preparation for the longer, lighter summer days. And while we may begrudge the hours sleep we will miss, imagine for a moment, how confusing this change can be to the zoo animals and their routine! For example, the penguins waiting to come out on parade next week will most likely be waiting expectantly for the gates to open at 13:15 instead of the usual 14:15! It often takes the animals in the zoo a little while to allow their body clocks to adjust to the change in time, and therefore during the first week after the clocks change we often do not get any penguins on parade. Please do not be disappointed if you are visiting the zoo though, as the penguins are keeping themselves busy with plenty of other activities…

Following the Rockhopper Penguins lead, we can now announce that the first Gentoo Penguin egg has been laid over the weekend of the 21st/22nd March! Last year the Gentoo Penguins produced a whopping 38 chicks! We expect a similar success this year, and will keep you up to date with the egg count as more are laid! The eggs will begin to hatch out approximately one month from now.

From now onwards, you may be able to spot Gentoo Penguin eggs on the nest site!

From now onwards, you may be able to spot Gentoo Penguin eggs on the nest site!

This week, five Yellow-footed Tortoises were moved on show in to the Pygmy Hippopotamus house. Yellow-footed Tortoises can be found natively in South America and prefer habitat with a tropical climate and plenty of vegetation, such as rainforests. This species is classified as ‘Vulnerable’ by the IUCN Redlist, and is threatened mainly by over-hunting. The meat from these tortoises is actually considered a delicacy in many countries in South America, as well as being considered a ‘fish’ by the Catholic Church, meaning that they are eaten in vast quantities during holy festivals! In the future we hope to breed this threatened species

An adult Yellow-footed Tortoise (not resident at Edinburgh Zoo)

An adult Yellow-footed Tortoise (not resident at Edinburgh Zoo)

Despite their name, Yellow-footed Tortoises do not always have yellow feet! Their limbs, tail and head can have brown, orange or yellow markings, making these tortoises often difficult to identify. If you’re visiting the zoo soon, look carefully for these tortoises as they are still young and rather small. Once you’ve spotted them watch out for head bobbing behaviours demonstrated only by the males, and listen out for rasping cooing noises from all the individuals! This is how they communicate with one another.

Back in early February we announced the arrival of a beautiful female Amur Leopard here at the zoo. Zane is an incredibly important individual in terms of conservation breeding as Amur Leopards are critically endangered in the wild. It is thought that there are less than 30 individuals now surviving in the wild. However, with around 300 individuals kept in captivity, the future hope for this species now lies largely in captive breeding programs.

Zane poses for the camera! 

Zane poses for the camera!

Zane has settled in to her new enclosure very well, and can often be viewed out and about or hiding in her dark den at the front of the enclosure.  Keepers hope to eventually breed Zane with our male, Skodgee. However, as Amur Leopards are strictly solitary animals, the process of introducing two animals can be very long!

The Carnivore Keepers here at the zoo are now taking the first step in this long process by allowing the pair of Amur Leopards to see one another through a wire mesh. This enables keepers to watch the reaction from the cats, and judge how well they are getting on. We can report that Skodgee’s initial reaction to Zane was encouraging as he seemed very interested in her. However, Zane was apparently a little more apprehensive. This is quite normal as a reaction to a first introduction, especially as Zane has only recently moved to the zoo. The keepers will continue to allow the Leopards to see one another in the hopes that, as time goes by, Zane will become more responsive to Skodgee. We will keep you up-dated on how the Leopards are getting along right here!


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