Dreamnight and some Egg-tastic News!

June 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

A Zoo Dream Come True! 

This has been a busy week at the zoo but the highlight was definitely Friday 4th June when Edinburgh Zoo opened its doors to over 1500 bereaved, long-term, terminally ill and special needs children and their carers to give them VIP access to the zoo!  The evening is called Dreamnight, a free event that takes place on the first Friday of June in over 500 zoos all over the world.  The idea originated in Holland in 1996 starting with just one zoo opening its doors to seriously ill children from a local hospital, from then on the night grew and grew with over 500 zoos worldwide now taking part. 

Staff and volunteers at the zoo work the evening on a purely voluntary basis and put on lots of extra activities for the children to get involved in.  There were animal encounters, talks, opportunities to see the animals being fed, experts on hand to answer any questions, a bouncy castle, face-painting, even an evening penguin parade as well as many other activities put on especially to give the children a unique VIP zoo experience

Darren McGarry, Animal Collections Manager at Edinburgh Zoo, said, 

“This was a very special night for all those involved. What we try to do is to create a night to remember so that the children can forget their problems and just be kids for the night.  For staff it is a chance to give their time to help these kids in a small way and for most, the highlight of the night is seeing so many smiling faces. A big thank you goes to everyone, including our many suppliers and supporters, for helping us to make this a night to remember.” 

King Penguins have some Egg-citing News! 

We may have been hearing plenty about the gentoo penguins and their chicks lately but there is also news on the King penguin front! After recently finishing their molt ready for the breeding season the first King penguin egg has now been laid! 

King penguins do not have a nest on which to incubate their egg, instead they balance the egg on top of their feet and under their belly.  King penguin parents take it in turns to incubate the egg, meaning that they have to pass the egg between themselves by rolling it on to the other penguin’s feet. 

King penguin parent incubating an egg

 This most recent egg has been laid to the green-banded female and blue-banded male (males are banded on the right flipper and females on the left).  Of course there is no guarantee that this egg will hatch out, the parents not only have to keep the egg from other jealous penguins who may try to steal it, resulting in the egg getting damaged but also negotiate passing the egg between themselves without damaging it which is not an easy task!  Hopefully though this pair will have learnt from the breeding success of last year when our red-banded female and yellow-banded male proved to be fantastic parents and managed to successfully incubate their egg for the full 56 days and then care for the chick (Maclean as he is now known).  Maclean was the first King penguin chick to be born at the zoo in 5 years as due to the difficulties in looking after their eggs king penguins can be notoriously difficult to breed!


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