New Faces, Confused Penguins and the New Sky Trail!

March 31, 2010 § Leave a comment


The New Faces in Budongo Trail! 
 
Of course one of the big stories in the zoo at the moment is the arrival of a new group of chimps to our Budongo Trail exhibit!!  The 11 new chimps arrived all the way from Beekse Bergen SafariPark in Holland on Thursday 18th March and Budongo was closed for a few days to give them chance to settle in.

They are adjusting to their new surroundings but seem to be making themselves right at home!  They have not yet had access to the whole of the enclosure so there is still plenty for them to explore.  The new group (Claus’ Group) are currently being kept separate from our original residents (Qafzeh’s Group) but they can hear, smell and as part of the introduction process at certain times see each other which results in a lot of excitement from the two groups as they display and call.  These are just the kind of natural behaviours that we might expect if chimpanzees were to encounter a neighbouring group in the wild!  Claus’ group consists of 6 females and 5 males with Claus as the dominant male and of course Qafzeh’s group has 6 males and 5 females with Qafzeh as the dominant male.

Bram - One of the New Arrivals

The two groups will be gradually introduced to their new neighbours to eventually form a group of 22.  This has come about under recommendation from EEP (European Endangered Species Breeding Programme).  The introduction process will be closely monitored by the keepers.   Budongo may have to be closed at certain times during this process so if you are coming to the zoo to see our chimps in particular it might be worth calling ahead to check that Budongo will be open.

The Chimps have Budongo Trail, now we have Sky Trail®!

If you have visited Budongo Trail you will have seen the huge climbing frame that our chimps have at their disposal, think it looks like fun? Then why not have a go yourself as the new Sky Trail® Discovery has just opened behind Budongo, next to the top viewing area for the chimps outdoor enclosure.  This is a high level rope adventure course where you get hooked up to a harness and get to make your way around the course 4 metres above ground having to negotiate your way over rope bridges and beams.  And as an added bonus you get to see the chimps make it look easy; climbing and swinging their way through their climbing frame just next door. The course costs just £4 for adults and £3 for children, lasts about 15 mins and is fully supervised.

Penguins Feel the Time Change Too!

It might not seem like it with the weather we’re having (and the threat of worse to come!) but as of 1am this Sunday morning it became summer with our clocks going forward for us to spring into spring thanks to British Summer Time! I’m sure everyone felt it on Monday morning when we were essentially in work an hour early and some of our animals notice the change too.

Those of you that come to the zoo regularly will have seen our penguins lining up at the door of their enclosure around 10 past 2 ready for their parade at 2.15. At this time of year though they are a bit off the mark as the parade basically comes round an hour early! It can take a few days for the birds to settle into the new routine.

So what time is the parade?

It seems silly but it demonstrates how important routine is to these birds in the wild specifically the gentoos. Scientists have found through census based research that partner birds will always return to the nest by around 3pm. This could be due to cues from the tide, daylight or knowing when predators are more abundant but it shows how conscious the penguins are of what time of day it is. In autumn when the clocks fall back again you’ll find the gentoos hanging about at the gate an hour early wondering where the keepers are! Although when the clocks fall back all the animals notice as their dinners are all ‘late’. Just now that their dinner is early is much easier to stomach!

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