The Great Escape!

July 15, 2009 § 2 Comments


You can’t have failed to notice the headlines over the last week about captive primates worldwide escaping their enclosures! It began with the chimpanzees at Chester Zoo, and has been followed this week by a cunning Orang-utan in an Australian Zoo. And, over the last ten days a group of Barbary macaques have been trying their keepers’ patience by escaping their enclosure here at Edinburgh Zoo! The group of twelve macaques were moved to a new enclosure on the 3rd July, and a few curious individuals quickly figured out a way of climbing in and out at their will! Since then, these monkeys have been popping out into the zoo for a wander around, all the while staying with in the close vicinity of their enclosure. They have not left the zoo grounds. Macaques are highly social animals and the group will remain together, so they are highly unlikely to stray far from the enclosure.

Since their escape, keepers have been keeping a close eye on the whereabouts and antics of the monkeys. They pose no threat to the public, and on the whole have stayed away from people, keeping to the tree-tops as much as possible.

However, this has made catching the monkeys all the more difficult for the keepers! A few individuals have now been caught and secured in an alternative enclosure. Some other individuals are however, still at large around the zoo! The keepers will continue their efforts to catch the escapees. Once they have all been placed in an alternative enclosure, modifications will be made to the original enclosure to improve security. The zoo is still open to visitors. However, if you are planning to visit at this time you may find that certain areas of the zoo have been closed. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding with this.

Barbary Macaques can be famously found in Gibraltar, where they are just as curious and unfazed by proximity to humans! 

Barbary Macaques can be famously found in Gibraltar, where they are just as curious and unfazed by proximity to humans!

We are pleased to announce that the Eurasian tundra reindeer herd have given birth to 2 female foals! The first was born on 25th May and the second on 4th June. The reindeer are a relatively new addition to Edinburgh Zoo, the first individuals arriving just before Christmas last year, and the others in spring. The birth of these two youngsters is therefore a fantastic indicator that the herd have settled in well to their new hill-top home. The herd is now ten reindeer strong, with a dominant bull of 8 years old residing over the rest of the harem. The foals will suckle from their mothers until autumn, when they will become independent. However, they can already be spotted grazing for themselves.

Mother and baby enjoy the sunshine 

Mother and baby enjoy the sunshine

If you can make it all the way up to the zoo hill top (or just catch a ride on the hill-top safari bus!) look out for these new additions in the most northerly enclosure of the zoo. The youngsters can be spotted out and about with the rest of the herd.

Baby number 2 is easily distinguished and much smaller!  

Baby number 2 is easily distinguished and much smaller!

And, we are pleased to announce yet another birth! On 12th April, our North American tree porcupine family welcomed a young female into their brood. She has been named ‘Peanut’ and can often be seen cautiously climbing and exploring her enclosure. She now lives with just her mother, as unfortunately her father died earlier in the summer. Just like the reindeer, the tree porcupines have been resident at Edinburgh Zoo for less than a year, and it is encouraging to see that they settled in and bred so quickly.

Tree porcupines can be found native to North America, occupying a wide range of habitats from tundra, to dense forests and even desert shrub land. The have a wide range and large population, and are therefore listed as ‘Least Concern’ by the IUCN red list. They are the third largest of the rodent family, falling behind the capybaras and the beavers. Despite their name, they are poorly adapted for life among the branches, having a chunky body, short legs and a short, stumpy tail. When climbing, they are slow and cautious, and are known to frequently fall out of trees!

Peanut is going from strength to strength, and is certainly a character to watch! She already has a full coat of quills to protect herself, as these harden up only a few hours after the birth of a youngster. Look out for her in the enclosure directly behind the sea lion pool.

Peanut shows us her defensive strategy  

Peanut shows us her defensive strategy



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§ 2 Responses to The Great Escape!

  • Simon says:

    Thought you’d find this interesting, the macaques in the process of the escape bid the day after the move. The gap is incredibly small and both agility and intelligence are obvious.

  • Simon says:

    And here’s a clip of young Peanut!

    Perhaps I’m spending too many Saturdays at the zoo with my video camera? Or can you really spend too much time at the zoo?

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