July 22, 2009 § 1 Comment
The British weather has not let us down! As expected, with the arrival of the summer holidays, the rains and temperamental weather has graced our fair land again. However it has not stopped dedicated zoo visitors from bracing themselves against the ever-changing weather, and hoping for the best! Here’s what you can look out for this week, if you yourselves fancy a trip to the zoo!
You may recall from quite a while back, that we were expecting our female Maned Wolf to give birth. We are now pleased to announce that on 13th February 3 puppies were born. The black furred puppies have stayed well hidden over the past few months. They were first spotted out during April, but since then, sightings have been rare.
Maned wolves are native to central South America, where they inhabit grassland and scrub forest habitats. They are well adapted for a life amongst the grasses, having long, stilt-like legs. This enables them to see over the long grasses when hunting prey, whilst at the same time, keeping themselves hidden amongst the vegetation. They are also true omnivores, taking full advantage of their lush habitat, and consuming fruits, which make up 50% of their whole diet. At Edinburgh Zoo, our maned wolves inhabit an enclosure that represents their natural habitat very well. No doubt, all this long grass makes spotting the youngsters all the more difficult!
The pups have in fact proved to be so elusive that their keepers have not yet managed to sex the pups! However, despite their secretive nature, their keepers can confirm that all 3 pups are healthy and maturing well. Their parents can often be seen out and about in the enclosure, and it is only a matter of time before we start to spot the youngsters more frequently. Why not take a trip to the hill top where their enclosure is located to see if you can spot them?
Our handsome maned wolf poses among the grasses
Following the past two weeks ‘monkey business’, we can now inform you (with some relief!) that all of the escapee barbary macaques now been captured and moved to the monkey house. Only 5 of the group of 12 macaques where able to climb out of the new enclosure, and on the 14th July, 3 of the escaped monkeys were caught. Keepers were finally caught the remaining 2 escapees on the evening of the 17th July after they wandered into the indoor gelada baboon house! (I’m not quite sure what the gelada baboons must have thought of all that!) All 5 macaques are now being kept in the Monkey House until final modifications, have been completed on their new enclosure at Barbary Rock, after which they will be returned to their enclosure and the rest of their group.
Off the back of all the Barbary macaque dramas, we are also pleased to announce that we have welcomed a new species to Edinburgh Zoo. A group of Guinea baboons have moved into the old Barbary macaque enclosure (hence their move!), opposite the monkey house. The new group consists of a whopping 20 females and 13 males, including some youngsters! They arrived as a ready-made social group from Paris Zoo (which is closing down temporarily for renovations) on the 15th July. And by all accounts they are very well trained too! Maybe they can teach our Barbary macaques a thing or two!
The new group settles in to live at Edinburgh Zoo
Guinea baboons are the smallest of all baboon species, but share many physical and behavioural features with other baboons. They live in harems of up to and over 500 individuals in rich habitats, and exhibit brightly coloured rumps to display their ranking within their social grouping. They have an omnivorous and opportunistic diet, eating fruits and shoots, as well as insects and small mammals. They are also adaptable and can inhabit a wide range of habitats. However, to their ultimate detriment, they have been known to inhabit agricultural areas and raid cultivated crops for food.
Unfortunately, unlike other baboon species, the Guinea baboons have suffered wide spread declines in the past 30 years. The IUCN red list classifies this West African primate as ‘Near Threatened’, although it very nearly meets the criteria for a vulnerable species. Major threats include loss of habitat through tree-felling and large-scale agricultural expansion, as well as persecution and hunting for the bush meat trade. Many have also been exported for laboratory use.
We are therefore very pleased to welcome such a large and vibrant group of this threatened primate to Edinburgh Zoo. We would hope and expect them to begin breeding once they have settled in, and their new enclosure is certainly large enough to house a growing harem. Watch this space!
Some individuals can already been seen carrying youngsters around with them!
Following a story announcing the arrival of the Lady Ross’s Turacos a few weeks back, we would now like to let you know that the Turacos have, in fact, been placed on show in the aviaries opposite the rhino enclosure, rather than in the African Aviary. Look out for these beautiful, brightly-coloured birds, flitting between the leaves, in the same enclosure as our family of Cochin-Chinese red jungle fowl!
The Lady Ross’s Turaco in its new enclosure
Finally, we’re getting ‘Close up to Carnivores’ this weekend with a special event to raise awareness of the EAZA European carnivore campaign. There will be a special trail around the zoo, along with craft, a polar bear competition, new badges to collect and some other special items being used to raise money for our conservation fund. Come along and join in the fun whilst helping us to conserve some of the world’s most endangered animals!
It’s hard work being an ambassador for European carnivore