Meet the troops!

September 16, 2009 § Leave a comment

What do baby baboons, a Malayan tapir, the Royal Engineers and Edinburgh Zoo’s adult class all have in common? They are all the news stories in this week’s blog entry of course! Read on to find out all the details!

We are delighted to announce the births of two baby Guinea baboons! As you might remember from a previous blog entry, a large group of 33 Guinea baboons arrived from the Zoo de Paris to Edinburgh Zoo back in July. The original group settled in very well to their new home in the old gorilla enclosure by the monkey house. Less than two months later we have had two births in the group! This brings our group to a total of 35 baboons. The two mums are called Laura and Tiana and both babies and mums are doing well! The primate keepers have not named the two babies yet as the mums are keeping a really tight hold on their babies so we haven’t spotted if the babies are boys or girls! But once the keepers know, they will choose names for the young ones and their names will start with the first initial of their mum’s name so in this case, L and T!

Female Guinea baboons give birth to one infant after a gestation period of 184 days. Our baby baboons can be seen holding on to their mother’s belly. This is where babies spend their first 6 to 12 weeks. After that they may switch to the mother’s back either sitting up or lying on her back. Guinea baboons live in large social groups although they will form small subgroups made up of one male and three to four females when they are foraging for food. Several of the subgroups gather together for the night at a sleeping site. 

It is fantastic that our troop of Guinea baboons is breeding in Edinburgh Zoo, especially since this West African primate species is considered ‘Near Threatened’ on the IUCN red list due to its small range and the loss of its habitat. The good news is that more births are expected in the zoo group soon so keep checking the blog to keep up to date with the latest arrivals!

 Little baby Guinea baboon taking in the world for the first time!

Little baby Guinea baboon taking in the world for the first time!

Along with all the new arrivals this week we are also saying good bye to our young female tapir. Indah was born on the 26th of September last year and now is at the right stage to leave her mum. Indah will be leaving Edinburgh Zoo to go to a zoo in Kent. In the wild, Malayan tapirs are solitary animals and they mark out their territory by spraying urine on plants in the area.

Indah, like all other Malayan tapir babies, was born with a baby coat of brown hair with white stripes and spots. This pattern helps the babies to hide in the dim light of the forest. She has now developed her adult coat of large patches of black and white to look just like her mum! Female Malayan tapirs generally produce one calf every two years. We’ve had great breeding success with our pair of tapirs at the zoo and we hope this will continue in the future!

 One of the first photos taken of Indah last year!
One of the first photos taken of Indah last year!

One year on, ready for the move!

One year on, ready for the move!

If you are interested in the work that the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland carries out why not come along to our adult class which starts on Tuesday the 29th of September 2009 and runs from 10:30am – 12:30pm. The adult class this term is part of the society’s centenary celebrations and is called RZSS – 100; The Role of the Modern Zoo. It is an 8 week introductory course on the role of the modern zoo. Topics that will be covered include a history of RZZ, zoo collection planning, animal care, in-situ and ex-situ conservation, research and zoo education. Come and discover the story of our past, present and future!

Further details and how to book are available from the Edinburgh City council website:

 RZSS 100 - The Role of the Modern Zoo Adult Class

Finally, if you have visited the zoo over the last week you might have spotted some army soldiers about in the park. But visiting the animals is not the main reason why this troop is in the zoo – instead they are working on projects in the zoo as part of a Military Aid to the Civilian Community (MACC) task. Both the zoo and the soldiers benefit from the programme. The zoo receives free labour for tasks such as building a decking area for our new penguin coffee shop, a new ramp for the front of the Education Centre, a bothy for the stores area and various concrete improvement tasks around the zoo. The Royal Engineers taking part in the programme are provided with an ideal opportunity to brush up on their construction expertise before they head out to support operations in Afghanistan.  The Royal Engineers involved are known as ‘Sappers’ and are multi-skilled as soldiers, combat engineers and tradesmen. Look out for the improvements they have made around the zoo the next time you visit!

Working away building a decking area for the penguin coffee shop
Working away building a decking area for the penguin coffee shop. Our penguins check out their work during the penguin parade! 


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