One Big Chimpanzee Community and Some Exciting News from the Scottish Beaver Trial!

August 18, 2010 § 2 Comments

Budongo Trail is now Home to a Chimpanzee Super-Group!

  It’s certainly been an interesting few months in Budongo trail; our new chimps have arrived from Beekse Bergen Safari Park in the Netherlands, have settled in, been introduced to our Edinburgh group and have now formed one large super-group!

So Who’s Who?

  The new arrivals (referred to as Claus’ group after their dominant male) consisted of five males (Claus, Paul, Rene, Bram and Frek) and six females (Eva, Edith, Pearl, Heleen, Sophie, Lianne).  Claus (17 years old) is the dominant male, he took the position from Paul, (17) before they came to Edinburgh but Paul has maintained a high rank within the group. Rene (17) is a very social, playful male who gets on well with everyone.  Bram (24) prefers to do his own thing within the group but when he does choose to get involved he has some very impressive looking displays.  Frek (16) is the lowest ranking of the Beekse Bergen boys but he seems keen to get along with the others.

  Eva (29) is the alpha female of Claus’ group, but she is going to have to contend with Emma’s (alpha female of Qafzeh’s group) dominant personality if she is to become the dominant female of the super-group. Edith (14) is Eva’s daughter, she is a very playful chimpanzee who is very good at getting the other chimps to join in with a play session.  Pearl (41) is a mature, high ranking female who along with Louis was a founding member of the super-group. Heleen (19) is a mid-ranking female, she has integrated well and has become very popular with the boys from Qafzeh’s group.  Sophie (28) has become good friends with Edith throughout the introduction process and the pair are frequent playmates.  Lianne (21) is the lowest ranking female of Claus’ group but during the introduction process she has integrated well, becoming much more confident.

How do you go about introducing two chimpanzee groups?

  Claus’ group arrived in March and they were kept separate from the original Edinburgh residents (Qafzeh’s group) at first but once they had settled in they were gradually introduced.  The keepers allowed different individuals to meet in the bed area where they could keep a close eye on how they were getting along.  Louis, a mature high ranking male from Qafzeh’s group and Pearl from Claus’ group got on extremely well from the first introductions and it was decided that they would become the founding members of the super-group.  They were introduced and allowed to stay together in a separate pod away from the other two groups, they were closely followed by Louis’ friend David from Qafzeh’s group and Heleen from Claus’ group.  Individuals from both groups were then gradually filtered into this group and the last individuals to be introduced were the four highest ranking males.

Edith from Claus' group and Kilimi from Qafzeh's group

They are now busy working out super-group politics!

  Since the introductions there has been plenty going on within the group. The alpha males have been giving each other a wide berth but there have been plenty of displays between them.  It is going to be extremely interesting to see who eventually becomes the dominant male, this could however take a long time to sort out.  The alpha male is not necessarily the biggest, strongest or most aggressive.  In order to become dominant a male has to form alliances and get other chimps to support him.  Without the support and respect from other members of the community it is unlikely that a male will maintain a high rank.  Chimpanzees are extremely social animals and they have many behaviours that help to create and maintain alliances.  Chimps will groom, play, share food, reassure and stick up for each other all of which helps to form and reinforce these bonds.  Of course arguments do occasionally break out and although chimpanzee conflicts can be serious most disputes are more about showing off, displaying, making a lot of noise and displacing other chimps. These displays and the formation of alliances are what will eventually determine the hierarchy. 

Kindia (one of the Edinburgh males) displaying

So next time you are visiting the zoo make sure that you check in on the chimps to see how they are getting along!

Beaver News!

  There has also been some exciting news for the Scottish Beaver Trial (SBT)!  The Scottish Beaver Trial is a partnership project between the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT)and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park). The project was set up to try and determine if the reintroduction of beavers into the wild in Scotland is possible and what the impacts of such a reintroduction could be.  Since 2008 four beaver families have been introduced into Knapdale Forest, Mid-Argyll and now it has been confirmed that two kits have been born!  The kits are from two different families and are estimated to be about eight weeks old!  When born beaver kits weigh about one pound at birth, have a full coat of fur, eyes open and they can swim!

Beaver kit with one of the adults. Photo credit: Steve Gardner, Scottish Wildlife Trust

Christian Robstad, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Beaver Field Officer, described his experience spotting Scotland’s exciting new arrivals:  “Seeing the Trial’s newborn beaver kits was really amazing – this is a huge achievement for the project and for conservation in the UK.” and Simon Jones, the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Scottish Beaver Trial Project Manager, said:  “Receiving confirmation of the presence of at least two beaver kits this year in Knapdale is a fantastic step forward for the Scottish Beaver Trial as we can now begin to see how a small reintroduced population starts to naturally establish itself in the wild.

  The Scottish Beaver Trial spent last Saturday at the mid-Argyll show in Lochgilped.  The stall allowed people to find out all about the trial, ask any questions and to voice their opinions. Dee Masters, an Education Officer at RZSS had this to report:

  The Scottish Beaver Trial had an eventful day at the mid Argyll show in Lochgilped on Saturday 14th Aug.  There was no sign of rain and the sun shone encouraging around 300 locals and tourists to the event.  With the arrival of 2 kits hitting the papers the previous day everyone seemed to be captivated by the beavers, their locations and how quickly they have established themselves in the Knapdale forest.  Much excitement and enthusiasm was observed by Dee Masters (RZSS) and Nick Wright (SWT ) throughout the day and everyone got the chance to voice their opinons on the topic.  Many intregued to see what will happen throughout the remainder of this trial period.

Scottish Beaver Trial stall at the mid-Argyll show

If you would like to find out more about the Scottish Beaver Trial then visit the website at:


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§ 2 Responses to One Big Chimpanzee Community and Some Exciting News from the Scottish Beaver Trial!

  • I personally think it is wonderful when long-lost animals are being returned to their environment. Sadly, many people don’t seem to share this view. Poland still has its wild population of beavers. After recent floods, some people blamed the animals for the disaster, instead of the concrete river banks and development on the flood plains. They started to call for the cull of beavers. It hasn’t happened – but it shows the attitudes.
    Don’t you have problems with the locals protesting against beaver re-introduction?

  • rzss says:

    Hi Marta,

    Thanks for your support! Local people have been very supportive of the trial, of course as with any such project there are bound to be some differences of opinion but the overall attitudes to the reintroduction have been really positive. The reintroduction of beavers could have many positive effects on the local area; it may result in an increase in tourism as people come to try and get a glimpse of the beavers. Beavers also effect their environment in positive ways. They modify their habitat through coppicing trees and building dams which can benefit many other species from mammals such as otters and water voles through to birds, fish and invertebrates. As well as creating more diverse habitats and therefore possibly increasing the biodiversity of an area beavers can actually reduce flooding risk by moderating the water flow of the rivers they dam. The trial is closely monitoring the impacts that the beavers have on the local area and if necessary can take steps to restore any areas that are negatively affected.
    Keep reading the RZSS blog for further updates and you may also want to take a look at the Scottish Beaver Trial blog which can be found at:

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