Births, Superstars and a visit from the next Generation of Animal Lovers

July 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

Wildcat Kitten 

  The latest news from our sister park, the Highland Wildlife Park is that we can now announce the birth of a Scottish wildcat kitten (Felis silvestris grampia).  The kitten was born on 3 May 2010 to mum Seasaidh and is still to be sexed and named.  The Highland Wildlife Park has 12 Scottish wildcats and they are one of Britain’s rarest mammals. 

The birth of the new kitten is important in maintaining the Scottish Wildcat gene pool! Photo credit: David Barclay

Scottish wildcats are our only remaining native feline, they were once found throughout the UK but hunting has meant that they are now only found in the remote Scottish highlands.  

  As Douglas Richardson, Animal Collection Manager at the Highland Wildlife Park, said: “From latest estimates, the Highland tiger – as the Scottish wildcat is also known – is more rare than some of its larger cousins such as the Amur tiger that can also be seen here. Historically they were hunted for fur and killed as vermin but more recently disease and vehicle collisions have also taken their toll. However, the greatest risk they face is interbreeding with domestic cats; extinction by dilution.” 

  This is a big problem with Scottish wildcats as they can breed with domestic cats which will produce hybrids and if this continues the pure wildcat genes will become more and more diluted within the wild population.   This problem makes captive breeding of Scottish wildcats important not only to maintain a captive population in case these animals do become extinct in the wild but it is also an important  tool to maintain the genetics of the Scottish Wildcat. 

  The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, the charity that owns Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park is a partner in the Cairngorms Wildcat Project.  For more information on Scottish Wildcats and what is being done to try to conserve them visit  


Black Howler Monkey Baby 

  Edinburgh Zoo also has a new arrival to announce!  On 2 June 2010 Meryl, our Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta caraya) gave birth to a baby boy!  He is her first infant and is now on show to the public!  The baby will stay clinging to mum for the first few months. 

Photo credit: RZSS

Meryl came to Edinburgh from Twycross zoo in October 2008 following the unexpected death of Molly, the zoo’s previous female who died after giving birth to Diego who was subsequently hand reared before being reintroduced to the group.  

  As Lorna Hughes, Head Keeper for Primates at Edinburgh Zoo said, keepers are delighted with the newest arrival:  “After the sadness attached to Diego’s birth we are thrilled that this time around this youngster will have its mum to rear him and we’ll have less sleepless nights. For Diego, it is good for him to see the normal rearing process within the group environment and also for him to have a new playmate.” 

  The father of the new arrival is Kiko who was illegally taken from the wild as a baby before being found by customs during an attempt to smuggle him out of Brazil.   

Adult male Black Howler Monkeys have a black coat but they are born blonde so that they can blend in with mum's coat (adult females are blonde) Photo credit: RZSS


Animal Superstars 

  For anyone who was in the zoo last Saturday I ‘m sure you will know all about our animal superstars, (as will many of our regular visitors) because last Saturday was our adoption awareness day!  Visitors coming to the zoo were encouraged to follow the especially created superstar trail so that they could find out more about some of our animals! 

For example: 

  Sir Nils Olav our king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) is an Honorary member of the Norwegian Guard and in 2008 received a knighthood. The Guardsmen adopted a king penguin as their mascot in 1972 and Nils has been moving up the ranks ever since! The Guardsmen visit Nils every few years when they are in the city performing at the military tattoo.  Their last visit was in 2008 when Nils received his knighthood! For more info on Nils visit:  

  Tina our Jaguar (Panthera onca) was previously kept in a circus in Belgium before being then brought to Edinburgh Zoo to take part in the European breeding programme with our black Jaguar Mowgli. 

   Samir our Greater One-horned Indian Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) has been at the zoo since May 2010, he is only 18 months old and will double in size before he is fully grown at around 6 years old.  He can often be seen playing and exploring his enclosure with his friend Bertus, our other young Indian rhino. 

  Captain Beaky the rainbow lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) has lived in Rainbow Landings since it opened, she has yellow zig- zag markings on her chest, a thick silver band on her left foot and her favourite food is grapes. 

  For more information on adopting animals here at the zoo visit:    

Zoo Babies 

  As part of the adoption campaign last Friday saw zoo staff celebrating the recent boom in human births!  In the past 3 years there have been 18 babies born to parents who work at the zoo and as part of the campaign each child has had one of the newly hatched gentoo penguin chicks named after them!  They came to the zoo on Friday to meet the chicks and to be presented with their adoption certificate. 

Photo credit: RZSS


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