A Royal Visit for Highland Wildlife Park and Scotland’s Beavers!
September 15, 2010 § Leave a comment
Last Wednesday Edinburgh Zoo’s sister park, Highland Wildlife Park had a very special visit from HRH The Princess Royal. As patron of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) (the charity that owns Highland Wildlife Park and Edinburgh Zoo) Her Royal Highness opened the new wolf enclosure at the Park in Kincraig before visiting Knapdale, Mid-Argyl to see the work of another of RZSS’s partnership projects; the Scottish Beaver Trial.
As part of her visit to Highland Wildlife Park HRH The Princess Royal unveiled a plaque and cut a ribbon to declare the new ‘Wolf Wood’ open before being given a special tour of the park. Joined by Animal Collections Manager for the park, Douglas Richardson and Will Boyd-Wallis from the Cairngorm National Park Authority Her Royal Highness was given an insight into the conservation efforts that are being undertaken to try to conserve the Scottish Wildcat as part of the Highland Tiger project. This was followed by a driven tour of the free-roaming animals including the Przewalski’s horses, a species that is now extinct in the wild.
David Windmill, Chief Executive of RZSS said; “We are delighted that Her Royal Highness has been able to visit the Highland Wildlife Park and see in detail some of the really important conservation work we are carrying out. In recent years, as our wildlife has struggled with the challenges it faces, the role and purpose of captive animal collections has shifted from a perception of simply animal showcases to an active conservation ambassador role. At the Highland Wildlife Park and at its sister site Edinburgh Zoo we are committed to wildlife conservation, education and research and we are honoured that The Princess has taken time out from her busy schedule to learn more about what we do and why we do it.”
The new 2,000m² wolf enclosure at Highland Wildlife Park is now home to female European grey wolf Elara and newly arrived male Puika. The pair have settled in well and it is hoped that in the future they will go on to breed. The new enclosure cost £300,000 to build and was built with help from Royal Engineers.
Just before midday HRH The Princess Royal left the park to attend other engagements, this included a visit to Knapdale in Mid-Argyll where Her Royal Highness saw another RZSS partnership project in action!
Knapdale is the release site for the Scottish Beaver Trial, the UK’s first ever formal mammal reintroduction project. The Scottish Beaver Trial is a partnership project between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust and host partner Forestry Commission Scotland. The project is a trial reintroduction of beavers into the wild in Scotland and it has recently been announced that two of the released beaver families have bred for the first time with each family having one kit.
During her visit HRH The Princess Royal took a boat ride to a lodge belonging to one of the breeding families and was given an insight into the ground breaking five year project that has seen beavers in the wild in Scotland for the first time since humans hunted them to extinction 400 years ago.
Representatives from the project partners were also on hand to meet the Royal guest.
Iain Valentine, RZSS’s Director of Animals, Conservation and Education welcomed the visit and interest from the Society’s patron: “We are delighted that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal today has been able to visit this unique project and see the important conservation work the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland is undertaking. The Scottish Beaver Trial is not only a first for Scotland but for the UK too. We hope that similar projects will take place in England and Wales in the coming years that will harness the impacts this incredibly useful mammal can have on habitats and dependent species.”
For more information on the conservation work that RZSS is involved with check out these websites: http://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/conservation/, Scottish Wildcat: http://www.highlandtiger.com/, Scottish Beaver Trial: http://www.scottishbeavers.org.uk/