African births and a Scottish farewell!

November 18, 2009 § 9 Comments


Despite the cooler weather, our African species have continued to breed successfully at Edinburgh, and we are pleased to announce yet more births this week! However, we also say farewell to an iconic Scottish species as they head for pastures new. Read on to find out more.

We are pleased to announce that a Senegal bushbaby was born on the 5th August. The youngster has now been identified as a male and has been named Bertrand! His birth came just four months after the birth of his older brother Bobo, born on the 2nd April. Breeding usually occurs twice a year in this species, and we are thrilled that our pair are fulfilling their full breeding potential. And, given that they have a gestation period of approximately 123 days (around four months), we can surmise that they don’t waste any time when it comes to these sort of things!

At birth, young weigh only around 0.012kg, and are often carried around in their mother’s mouth! This is one of the reasons why the keepers have only just managed to sex and name this youngster. However, they do grow quickly and become independent at around just two months old. Bertrand will no longer be seen clinging onto his mother; instead he will be bouncing around the enclosure with brother Bobo! This species is particularly adept at leaping from branch to branch, using their large back legs to make jumps of up to 5 metres at times!

Males mature at around 10 months old, and in the wild would disperse away from the parental territory at this age. Bobo and Bertrand may begin to feel pressure from their father as they mature, and are likely to be moved to another collection, where they can be paired with breeding females. Why not stop by their nocturnal enclosure and see if you can spot them bouncing about whilst they enjoy the winter in Edinburgh?

I challenge anyone to get a better picture of zoo bushbaby than this!

We are also pleased to announce the birth of a Grevy’s zebra foal on the 17th October. The young female has been named Lois and is already out and about in the African Plains enclosure, with mother, Emily. Zebra gestation is a staggering 13 months long, after which a sizable, light brown foal is born. This colouring aids the young zebra in camouflage, helping to keep them safe whilst they are still young. The foal also begins to walk around an hour after being born. This improves its chances of survival, helping it to keep up with its mother, and escape from predators. This is particularly important in the wild, as the Grevy’s zebra has been found to be a preferred prey species of lions!

This birth is excellent news for this endangered species. With more than one breeding female in our group at Edinburgh Zoo we will keep our fingers crossed for more births to come. Watch this space!

The young foal enjoys exploring the ‘African Plains’ enclosure

Finally, we wave goodbye to the Scottish wildcats this week as they leave the zoo for another collection. Three male wildcats were housed at Edinburgh temporarily as part of our involvement with the EAZA European Carnivore and Scottish Wildcat campaigns. The presence of this beautiful, Scottish species, helped to raise awareness of their plight, and money for their conservation in the wild. However, their enclosure, which is situated directly behind the old polar bear enclosure, is now needed for development of the old polar bear enclosure into a new enclosure for a new species.

Additionally, these three bachelor boys, all born in June 2008, will now be sexually mature. They will therefore be ready to be paired with females, in order to contribute towards the growing captive breeding population of this species. Currently, there are only around 40 individuals of this wild cat sub-species kept within captivity; and with a wild population estimated at only 400 individuals, continued captive breeding efforts remain very important. We hope that Sìm, Stùibhart and Baen will settle in well to their new homes.

One of the wildcats enjoys some enrichment created by this year’s summer school

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§ 9 Responses to African births and a Scottish farewell!

  • Steve says:

    Over the last few years Edinburgh Zoo seems to be set on getting rid of any animals that are actually worth going to see. We’ve lost Lynx, Siberian Tigers, Snow Monkeys, Ring tailed Lemurs, Meerkats, Snow Leopard, our Polar bea,to name but a few. We’ve now lost the Scottish Wildcats and the Amur Leopards are due to go too. I’m seriously wondering whether it’s worth renewing my membership!

  • rzss says:

    Thanks for the comment.

    Let me explain that the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland is first and foremost a conservation organization. We pride ourselves on keeping animals which are threatened in the wild and in need of conservation efforts such as captive breeding programs. We also pride ourselves in keeping animals which are suited to living in a Scottish climate, and in selecting the most suitable habitat possible for them to live in, whether this is the hillside terrain of Edinburgh Zoo or the tundra terrain of the Highland Wildlife Park. Many of the changes in the species we have kept over the last few years, have been as a result of these points.

    For example, the Amur tigers are much better suited to the climate and terrain further north, at the Highland Wildlife Park, and we have been able to provide them with a much better enclosure up there. To replace these animals at Edinburgh we did bring in Sumatran tigers.
    The same goes for our polar bear, Mercedes. She has already been enjoying the benefits of her new enclosure at the Highland Wildlife Park and we are currently beginning work on her old enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo as we hope to bring a new ‘wow’ species into the zoo, early next summer, to replace her.

    With regards to popular animals such as the meerkats and ring-tailed lemurs, we have choosen to stop keeping such species in favour of others, because they are incredibly common in captive collections, and in little need of focused conservation efforts. The ring-tailed lemurs, for example, have now reached their captive breeding capacity. There is not room for any more of them within captive collections!
    Again, these species have been replaced with other interesting species such as the red-bellied lemurs and mongoose lemurs, which are in greater need of focused conservation efforts.

    We do still keep many other charismatic and popular species at Edinburgh such as Indian Rhinos, three species of penguins, numerous species of monkeys, Chimpanzees, Koalas, Asiatic Lions, Grevy’s zebra, Patagonian sea lions, Gibbons, many species of birds including Steller’s sea eagles and Chilean flamingos, wolverines, warthogs, Malayan tapirs and reindeer!

    We are constantly working on developing our collection, and we hope that our members enjoy seeing different species of animals coming into the zoo, including those which are more rare and unusual.

    Please remember that you can also use your RZSS membership to visit the animals at the Highland Wildlife Park. Why not pay the lynx, amur tigers, snow monkeys, scottish wildcats and polar bear a visit up there?

  • Steve says:

    Sorry, I wasn’t trying to attack the Zoos’ conservation policies or the benefits to the animals of the changes you’ve been making. I just wanted to express my disappointment that the animals that keep ME returning to the Zoo on a regular basis are slowly disappearing.

    I do take your point about the Highland Wildlife park, but I live a short, cheap bus run from the Zoo and can visit on a regular basis, often for just an hour or two…I can’t say the same about the Wildlife park!.

    Regards, Steve

  • rzss says:

    Thanks for your comment. I can only express our apologies that we no longer keep the animals that you most want to see. We will keep you informed of any new additions to the collection and hope that they will pique your interest.
    We very much appreciate the support of our members, as it is you that enable us to carry on our conservation work. Thanks for all your support so far, and we hope that you will continue to support the zoo.

  • ali says:

    When are the amur leopards due to leave? I adopt the pallas cat from edinburgh zoo and was wondering if you get a letter asking if you want to start a new adoption/ you’re old one has finished. Are there any species at the zoo that haven’t been adopted yet? I never knew edinburgh zoo had lynx!

  • rzss says:

    There are no immediate plans for the Amur Leopards to leave. It is, however, part of the long-term masterplan for the RZSS collections to keep tundra and moutain animals at the Highland Wildlife Park. No doubt, a new enclousre would have to be developed for these cats before moving them on, and so, we should be able to give you plenty of notice before they depart.
    The Adoptions department will write to adopters before their adoption runs out, asking if they would like to renew. There certainly are some species which haven’t yet been adopted! The ocellated turkey, vulturine guinea fowl and cochin chinese red jungle fowl have no adopters at all. The hyrax, nyala, musk deer, waldrapp ibis and white-naped crane all have just 1 or 2 adopters each!
    The lynx left Edinburgh zoo about 3 years ago now.

  • Madeleine says:

    I’d like to point out that we miss the red pandas since they moved north. As non-drivers we don’t get to HWP except on the members’ coach trip which I’ve done once.

    The tree porcupines are a pretty good substitute. Exceptionally cute on the ground but spending most of their time asleep in the trees. They’re even harder to spot because of their colour and spines!

    Seriously, we support the Society’s conservation work with our membership and adoption (Tapirs in our case) but do feel that Steve has a point. We were also sad to see the takins head north and used to find it frustrating to visit with particular animals in mind only to discover they’d moved on. This blog serves a really useful purpose in keeping us up to date a bit better.

    However I’d really like to know if the drop in iconic species correlates with a drop in visitor numbers.

  • rzss says:

    We understand that visitors maybe disappointed to see certain species leave the collection here at Edinburgh Zoo. Our collection is constantly changing in response to changes in the animals available, the enclosures we can provide, their husbandry requirements, breeding opportunities, etc. This will continue to be the case as we strive to work as a conservation body, with animal welfare and captive breeding at the heart of what we do. Having said that, we do take our visitors view points into consideration, and understand that it is their support that allows us to do the important conservation work. We therefore always try to replace species as they leave the collection, and we strive to keep charismatic ‘wow’ animals that our visitors will enjoy visiting.
    In answer to your question, visitor numbers have actually risen steadily at Edinburgh Zoo over the last two years. This is likely to be as a result of opening new enclousures such as the Budongo Trail, Rainbow Landings and Living Links.
    We will strive to keep you up to date on the coming and goings of animals in the collection on the blog, so that you willl not be disappointed on future visits to the zoo.
    Thanks for your comment and your support.

  • ali says:

    I’ve got a good idea for a new enclosure area for edinburgh zoo. You could make a big cat trail or something like how you’ve got budongo trail. You shoud get more webcams too.

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