Heat Wave hits!

June 24, 2009 § 2 Comments


Many people have been enjoying the warm weather over the last week, and some of our animals have certainly been basking in the tropical temperatures too! Here’s what has been happening in the zoo this week.

There is no change with our penguin colony this week. We still have 43 gentoo penguin chicks and 2 rockhopper chicks. At the moment, only 1 king penguin egg has been laid, although the other king penguin female has just finished moult, and we expect her to lay an egg in the very near future. Don’t forget to check out ‘penguin cam’ on the Edinburgh Zoo website to keep up-to-date with the antics of the growing chicks.

It’s becoming a bit of a squash on some of the nests!

It’s becoming a bit of a squash on some of the nests!

We are pleased to announce that our long-nosed potoroo family have recently welcomed a youngster into the world. Our pair of potoroo have already successfully reared one youngster, and we have noticed a new infant bouncing around their enclosure in the Rainbow Landings exhibit, over the last few weeks.

The potoroo is a small marsupial found around the eastern and south-eastern coasts of Australia. Long-nosed potoroos are listed as ‘Least Concern’ by the IUCN red list. However, they are recognized as rare and endangered animals in some localties, such as Victoria and Queensland. Populations are extremely fragmented and are decreasing in number. Their main threats are predation by introduced species (especially foxes) and habitat loss.

A national recovery plan is in preparation for this species, as well as measures to control introduced predators in certain areas. The captive population is currently small, numbering only around 70 individuals. It is therefore important for us to keep and breed this species, in order to build up the captive population and to facilitate understanding about the ecology of this species.

Marsupials have relatively short gestation periods compared to other mammals, and give birth to a very small baby. The baby then lives in its mother’s pouch for several months. As it grows, it will begin to emerge from mum’s pouch, at first popping only its head out and then spending more time out exploring on its own. Strangely, the long-nosed potoroo has the longest gestation period of any known marsupial at 38 days. Females give birth to a single young that have a pouch life of about 4 months.

The new youngster is already living out of mum’s pouch, and must therefore be at least four months old. It has not been sexed but is very visible and can be spotted bouncing energetically around it’s enclosure in Rainbow Landings.

The long-nosed potoroo

The long-nosed potoroo

This week we are also welcoming a new species to Edinburgh Zoo; the Lady Ross’s turaco. Two male turacos will be joining the collection over the next week, and will make beautiful additions to our African aviary.

Like other turacos they are very colourful (exhibiting blue, purple and red feathers, with a bright yellow beak) and their colour comes from 2 copper pigments present in their feathers; turacoverdin and turacin. Turacoverdin is the only true green pigment known in any birds and is unique to this family of birds.

Like the other turacos, Ross’s turaco is particularly well adapted for clambering through trees having semi-zygodactylic toes. This means that their fourth toe is reversible, enabling the birds to grip with their claws. Why not pay at trip to the African aviary to admire these new additions?

The violet turaco, also resident at Edinburgh Zoo

The violet turaco, also resident at Edinburgh Zoo

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§ 2 Responses to Heat Wave hits!

  • Simon says:

    I love those potoroos, and sometimes feel sorry for them with the noise from the lorikeets. I’m really pleased because, apparently I was one of the first people to see the potorro joey. I managed to get this video on the 12th May.

  • rzss says:

    Wow, nice video! This little one has grown up a lot since then! If anybody else has videos or photos they would like to share, please do feel free to post them on here! We would love to see them.

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