The Pitter Patter of…

March 24, 2009 § Leave a comment


This last week has seen the arrival and news of future arrivals of some new additions to Edinburgh Zoo’s animal collection.


On the 26th February, 5 Eurasian Tundra Reindeer moved down to Edinburgh Zoo from the Highland Wildlife Park, to join the existing herd of Reindeer already resident here. In December 2008, 3 young Reindeer had arrived at Edinburgh Zoo to officially begin their ‘flight training’ with Santa. They lived next door to the Warthog’s, and of course next door to Santa’s grotto! However, as Spring arrived, so did 5 more mature Reindeer. They have joined the young herd, and they have all been moved up to the top of the hill (next to the Hilltop Safari Bus Stop) and a larger enclosure. The herd now totals 8 individuals, made up of 3 males and 5 females aged between 1 and 8 years old!



A young reindeer stakes out its new hill top enclosure

A young Reindeer stakes out its new hill top enclosure



You may recall from a previous post, that our pair of Darwin’s Rhea have recently been moved down to the old Capybara enclosure in the hopes they will enjoy some breeding success as a result. We can now announce that on the 10th March an egg was laid by the female Rhea, and she is expected to lay more!

Typically it is the male Rhea that will incubate and care for the clutch of eggs, and then in time the chicks too. Males can become very aggressive and protective when incubating eggs. Therefore, when the female lays the later eggs that will make up the rest of the clutch, she may lay them just outside of the nest, rather than inside it. The male should then move these eggs on to the nest.

Until all of the eggs have been laid, the male will not fully begin incubation. This is to delay the development of the first eggs just enough so that ultimately all of the eggs hatch at around about the same time. This makes caring for the chicks far easier once they have hatched!

This strategy is risky as it could mean some of the earlier eggs will not get the incubation they require. The decision has therefore been made to artificially incubate the egg that has been laid. The male has been given a dummy egg in place of the real one, and this will ensure that he maintains his parental care behaviours throughout egg development, so that once the chicks have hatched he can care for them himself.

The male can currently be seen inside the house in the Rhea enclosure (if you peek through the window!), where a cosy nest area has been set up for him. The female can be seen strutting around the outside enclosure, unconcerned with the eggs she has already laid!


 The female Darwin’s Rhea can be seen out in their enclosure

The female Darwin’s Rhea can be seen out in their enclosure

Following on from the recent Chimpanzee dramas in the Budongo Trail, we can report that the on going displays and fights have continued, as Kindia finds his placing with the hierarchy of the group. These are natural behaviours in a chimp community when you have an up and coming male challenging the alpha male’s position, and it most certainly provides enrichment and stimulation for the chimpanzees, as well as keeping them on their toes! These behaviours are expected to continue for quite a long period of time, as they would in a wild community. It is fantastic to see such behaviours in a captive community, and is a credit to the environment the Budongo Trail chimpanzees live in, and the care they receive from their keepers.

Young Liberius shows of his softer side!

Young Liberius shows of his softer side!


On the 10th of March our youngest male, Liberius, underwent a vasectomy operation. As with Qafzeh, Liberius’ DNA test showed that he is not a pure Western Chimpanzee, and he will therefore not be bred. Liberius’ operation went very smoothly, as did his reintroduction in to the group after the operation. In comparison to the drama of Qafzeh’s reintroduction, Liberius’ went largely unnoticed by the rest of the group! We will keep you updated on all the gossip from the Budongo Trail right here!


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