Primates…and a polar bear!

October 28, 2009 § 5 Comments


 

This week has seen lots of changes for the primates at Edinburgh Zoo. Read on to find out more about which of our species have been making the news! And of course, we couldn’t forget to update you on our favourite polar bear, Mercedes, and how she is settling in at the Highland Wildlife Park!

We are pleased to announce that Mercedes, the polar bear was released into her main enclosure for the first time on Tuesday 20th October. Despite all our cautiousness, Mercedes herself seems to have taken her big move all in her stride. She was ready to explore her new surroundings early Tuesday morning, after a very smooth move on Monday. And boy, has she been making the most of her new enclosure! She has been spotted by both the public and media alike, roaming around her new surroundings, rolling in the grass and swimming in her pool! She has apparently also been startled by a few rabbits! This is perhaps something of a new entity to her. And despite her timidness around small rodents, her mere presence has put all the surrounding hoofed animals on high alert, although she appears oblivious to them!
We are thrilled that after such a long stay at Edinburgh, she has responded so well to the change in her surroundings. We can’t wait to see how she reacts to the first heavy snow fall now!

 Last morning at Edinburgh Zoo – Mercedes obviously didn’t see the need to scrub up for her big move!
Last morning at Edinburgh Zoo – Mercedes obviously didn’t see the need to scrub up for her big move!
 

Being lifted onto the lorry
Being lifted onto the lorry

 Steady!
Steady!
 

Keeping a curious eye out!
Keeping a curious eye out!

 Leaving the zoo
Leaving the zoo
 

On the road, heading north
On the road, heading north

 Arriving at Highland Wildlife Park
Arriving at Highland Wildlife Park
 

Touching down in her new home
Touching down in her new home

 Exploring her off-show area for the first time
Exploring her off-show area for the first time
 

Looking surprisingly relaxed after such a big day!
Looking surprisingly relaxed after such a big day!

Plenty of images and footage of Mercedes in her on-show enclosure have now been released by the media. An internet search should bring up lots of great viewing!

We are pleased to announce that the brown capuchins at Living Links have recently welcomed two new babies into their groups. First, 6 year old Sylvania from the ‘West Group’ gave birth on the 7th September. She is a second-time mum, after giving birth to a male named Mekoe just last year. We are sure that Mekoe will be glad to have a young sibling to play with! All the west capuchins have had a good look at the baby, and will know by now whether it is a boy or a girl. However, the keepers are still waiting to get a good enough view of the new youngster to tell the gender, and then give the baby a name. We will keep you posted on this once we have more information.
Sylvie’s mother and matriarch of the group, 14 year old Lana then gave birth to another youngster on 21st October. This is Lana’s 6th baby, making her a brilliant role-model mum for Sylvie! We look forward to seeing the babies growing up and eventually playing together over the following months.
Meanwhile, over the fence in the ‘East Group’, Chico has reached six months old and has become one of the most playful and popular monkeys in the zoo. He does not have another baby to play with in his group, but fortunately his brother Carlos, and the super-playful Kato have enough time on their hands to spend hours wrestling with Chico outside!

 Baby boom at Living Links!
Baby boom at Living Links!

Next in line are the squirrel monkeys at Living Links. Squirrel monkeys are seasonal breeders, so all our adult females are likely to give birth between now and the New Year. With so many expectant mothers in the group, the keepers are going to have their hands full looking after so many babies! They successfully reared 9 youngsters in total last year, so we shall have to see if they can beat this record this time round. Stay posted for more on this!

 The squirrel monkeys will be next!
The squirrel monkeys will be next!

Many of our primates, will also be seeing some changes in their surroundings over the next couple of weeks. All of our ring-tailed lemurs will be leaving Edinburgh Zoo for far-flung destinations such as China! We have decided to stop keeping this iconic lemur species, in favour of two new species; the red-bellied lemur and the mongoose lemur. There are over 2,500 of the near-threatened ring-tailed lemurs in captivity worldwide! Edinburgh Zoo has therefore decided to focus its conservation breeding efforts on lesser known lemur species, in greater need of attention. There are currently only around 100 red-bellied lemurs in captivity, and 100 mongoose lemurs in captivity. These two species are also more threatened than ring-tailed lemurs, having been classified by the IUCN red list as ‘vulnerable’.
All of our ring-tailed lemurs will be moved to other zoos under the recommendations of the European studbook keeper, and we hope that they will settle in to their new homes well. Why not pop into the zoo over the next couple of weeks to wave them goodbye?!

Finally, one of our mature yellow-breasted capuchin males, 16 year old Fabio, will also be leaving the collection in early November for Colchester Zoo. This is under recommendations of the European Endangered Species Program (a higher level of captive species management than the European studbook). Fabio may sound like he’s getting on a bit for a monkey, but yellow-breasted capuchins often live to over 30 years old in captivity, and do not mature until around 8 years old. Fabio still has many years left ahead of him, and will most likely continue to breed in his new home. We wish him all the best!
In return, another mature male named ‘Little Man’ will be arriving at Edinburgh from Colchester Zoo, as well as a breeding female from Vallee des Singes, to be paired with the new male. These new additions should help to boost breeding efforts for this species at Edinburgh Zoo, as well as ensuring that the captive population is genetically diverse, and preventing any in-breeding. This is particularly important for this critically endangered species, which has suffered an estimated 80% decrease in their wild population size over the last 3 years.
The new arrivals will no doubt provide some enrichment for our resident group of one mature female, four younger males and one younger female! We will keep you posted on how the introductions go, and when you can expect to see the new pair on show.

The highly intelligent yellow breasted capuchin 
The highly intelligent yellow breasted capuchin

 

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§ 5 Responses to Primates…and a polar bear!

  • ali says:

    What did happen to the camels? I looked on the Highland Wildlife Park website and they were not on the animal section. Are they at edinburgh zoo? I know about the thing with putting animals that are used to the cold up in highlands and the animals that like the hot down in edinburgh. Are they’re going to be anymore animals getting exchanged? What will be going in Mercedes and the lemurs enclosures? When will the lemurs be leaving? Thank you!

  • Barry says:

    Further to my comment on last weeks blog regarding the future planned use of the Polar Bear enclosure at the HWP.
    Since there was no response posted I took the opportunity of asking the question directly to Douglas Richardson (head of animals at the HWP) at a recent members meeting. He told me that the long term plan was to start breeding Polar Bears and he also gave me some mor information regarding the construction of the enclosure.
    He also told me that my comment had been passed to him and that he had provided “a detailed reply”.
    I am wondering why his response did not appear on the blog.

  • rzss says:

    Apologies for the slow reply to your enquiry. Things have been rather busy at the zoo late!
    Here is the official response with regards to the future of polar bears within RZSS:

    The new polar bear enclosure at the Highland Wildlife Park was built for 3 main initial reasons: to improve the welfare of Mercedes; to test a new style of polar bear enclosure barrier; and to provide a clear focus for educating people about global warming and how it relates to Arctic species specifically. So far, the first two points are seeming to be addressed, and we need to develop the third a bit more.

    It is the Society’s intention to have a long term commitment to maintaining polar bears as part of the Park’s animal collection in line with cutting edge husbandry practices for the species and as part of a coordinated approach to polar bear conservation recommended by the polar bear EEP, the European Zoo Association’s Bear Taxon Advisory Group and the IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group. We are very unlikely to be bringing in any more polar bears until after Mercedes dies, but she will be replaced. A male enclosure, along similar lines to Mercedes’ facility, will be built in the future in a completely different part of the Park as it is our intention to breed, but not to manage the species as a group as they are basically solitary, outside of the breeding season or when a female has cubs. The current facility will remain as the female polar bear enclosure, with the different sexes just being brought together for mating. A key issue for any future cubs that we may produce will be where they are sent at dispersal age. A general premise for any reputable zoo is that you should only send your animals to facilities that are similar to or better than the one you have been keeping them in. Currently there are very few polar bear enclosures globally that compare favourably with our one in the Park, but we fully anticipate that our model will help stimulate interest in a new generation of large polar bear facilities.

    Another potential use for the current enclosure could be as a high quality holding facility for young, rescued polar bears that have come out of the wild and need to be kept somewhere prior to being sent to other collections within the European breeding programme. This alternate use may be realised after Mercedes dies and before we get into a potential breeding scenario.

  • rzss says:

    Thanks for the enquiry. In answer to your questions:
    1. The camels are now resident at Highland Wildlife Park, and have been since Easter this year. They have settled in well to their new enclosure.
    2. It is likely that some more animals may move from Edinburgh to the Highland Wildlife Park, including Amur Leopards and White lipped deer. However, there are no immediate plans to move these species.
    3. We are hoping to bring a new species to Edinburgh Zoo to fill Mercedes new enclosure. The enclosure will first need to be modified, and we would therefore expect to be ready for a new species early summer 2010. Keep your eyes to the ground for more news on what new species we will be getting!
    4. As I mentioned in the last blog, the ringtailed lemurs will be replaced with two new lemur species; the red-bellied lemurs and the mongoose lemurs. They will use the enclosure that the ring-tails are currently housed in. The lemurs are due to leave the collection some time this week (all going well!)

  • ali says:

    thats a shame about the amur leopards they are popular at the zoo

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