Arrivals and Departures!

August 12, 2009 § Leave a comment


We have yet more births to announce this week! On the 25th April, a brown capuchin monkey was born over on the eastern side of Living Links. This new addition is a male, named Chico! He may be spotted catching a ride on the back of his mother, Junon, or even now exploring the enclosure on his own and interacting with the rest of the group.

As well as this, on the 12th July the group welcomed another new born! This baby is yet to be sexed and named. However, it is also easy to spot clinging onto its mother, Anita’s back!

Undoubtedly, these youngsters will be learning a lot from their group. Chico, in particular, has begun spending time with not only his mum, but also his brother, Carlos, who was born in 2006. Over the past year Carlos has really enjoyed his training and research sessions with the researchers at the Living Links enclosure. After several months of work, he successfully learnt, from the researchers, that he could access honey (a great treat!) from the bottom of a box, by using a stick as a tool (a bit like an ice cream sundae spoon)! Despite, the length of time it took Carlos to learn this nifty trick, researchers spotted his mum learning exactly how to do it from him, within just 24 hours! This is a perfect example of how these intelligent primates can communicate with, and learn from one another. I’m sure that Chico may be learning such tricks from his mum and older brother very soon. Why not visit him in the Living Links enclosure on the far eastern side of the zoo, and see what he’s getting up to?

Look out for mum and baby! 

Look out for mum and baby!

Plans to move Mercedes the polar bear from Edinburgh Zoo to the Highland Wildlife Park are now well under way. Work has already begun on her enclosure and the keepers at Edinburgh Zoo have been working with Mercedes to train her to walk into the crate she’ll be transported in. Her transport crate was placed in front of her enclosure a couple of months ago and since then, keepers have been working with her every day to ensure the move goes as smoothly as possible.

Alison Maclean, Head Keeper of Carnivores, explains, “It is quite risky to sedate a large mammal so we have been training Mercedes to walk into the transport crate. We’ve been doing this using positive reinforcement – she has learned that when she walks into the crate she gets a reward, such as a piece of cooked chicken.  She responded to the training extremely quickly and has been walking in and out of her crate for a few weeks now. We are confident that the move will go well and we’re looking forward to helping her settle into her new home.”

Mercedes currently has a comprehensive and constantly evolving enrichment programme to stimulate her. She has also been trained by the keepers to stand on her back legs which allow them to check her paws and chest without the need for anesthesia.

Mercedes in training!

Mercedes in training!

Mercedes is the only polar bear in a UK zoo, has been in Edinburgh since 1984. She was rescued from her native Canada after she was scheduled to be shot. Unfortunately she began roaming into a nearby town in search of food and, as they are dangerous animals, this behaviour had to be discouraged. Initially, she was captured and the number ‘39’ was painted on her coat which allowed her to be tracked. However, on her third visit to the town, the decision was made to shoot her. Luckily, she was rescued and RZSS offered her a home at Edinburgh Zoo. Mercedes Benz, the car company, assisted with the costs of her transport, hence her name.

When Mercedes arrived at Edinburgh Zoo she was paired with a male polar bear called Barney. They produced two cubs, To-Nuik and Ohoto. Barney passed away 13 years ago, since then Mercedes has been on her own, which is a natural social state for this solitary species.

Relaxing in the sun! 

Relaxing in the sun!

Some long-term residents of Edinburgh Zoo have also been moved on-show this week after several years out of the limelight. 1 male and 2 female African Spurred Thighed Tortoises are currently on show in what was the bottom red river hog house, next to the Diana monkeys. However this is a temporary move for the 6 year old tortoises, as there are plans to move them to another collection in the near future. This may therefore be your last chance to admire these slow-moving beasts before they leave the collection forever.

An African Spurred Thighed Tortoise poses 

An African Spurred Thighed Tortoise poses

You may also be wondering what has become of the two red river hogs that previously inhabited this enclosure. Both Ruby and Buster, have also left the Edinburgh Zoo collection recently for another home. We were sad to wave goodbye to these two characters. However, we expect they will settle in well to their new home, and in the meantime, we can still watch out for the exploits of our remaining red river hogs, Belle and Hamish, who currently share an enclosure with the Eastern bongos.

Hamish shows us what red river hogs do best! 

Hamish shows us what red river hogs do best!


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