Potoroos, Vicuna and a Pair of Polar Bears!

November 17, 2010 § Leave a comment


  There have been a few enclosure moves at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland lately, Walker the polar bear has now moved in with Mercedes at Highland Wildlife Park, at Edinburgh Zoo the Potoroo family from rainbow landings can now be seen in the Koala enclosure and the Vicuna have moved to the east field.

  You may have noticed a bit of a theme to the last couple of blog entries with the arrival of Walker, Highland Wildlife Park’s second polar bear (Ursus maritimus) and it is too hard to resist another quick update on how walker and Mercedes are getting on as we are very excited to announce that they have now been officially introduced!  The introduction took place on Friday and the two seem to be getting along well.  Mercedes is not too sure of Walker just yet and may be a bit tense until she realises that he isn’t a threat…just very playful!  The pair will live together until Walker reaches maturity in 2-3 years, he will then be moved to a separate enclosure to become the future breeding male.  Polar bears are currently classed as Vulnerable by the IUCN red list which means that they are facing a high risk of extinction in the wild and one of the biggest threats that they face is global climate change which is causing their ice habitat to literally melt away. For more information on Walker’s arrival and the bears’ introduction visit: http://www.highlandwildlifepark.org/news.htm.  

Mercedes and Walker. Photo Credit: Aaron Sneddon

  With the recent closure of rainbow landings it hasn’t been possible to catch up with the long-nosed-potoroo (Potorous tridactylus) family for a little while but I’m sure that our visitors will be happy to know that Harold, Madge and family are now back on show in the zoo having now moved into the middle koala enclosure (in between Goonaroo and Yabbra’s enclosures).  Eventually it is hoped that it will be possible to open up the middle and one of the neighbouring enclosures so that the potoroos and the koalas (one at a time of course!) will be able to share a mixed species exhibit.  The potoroos seem to be settling in to their new enclosure well and we are happy to announce that they have recently welcomed a new addition to their family.  The joey is yet to be sexed and was born earlier this year although keepers didn’t get to see the new arrival for a little while following the birth as potoroos are marsupials and therefore their young are born at quite an early stage of development and live in their mother’s pouch for the first four months of life. 

The Potoroo family have now moved in with the Koalas

  Our vicuna bachelor group have also moved to a new enclosure within the zoo, they are now located in the east field which is where the reindeer herd used to be before their departure from the zoo last month.  We currently have six male vicuna (Vicugna vicugna): Pedro, Pele, Maradona, Pablo, Carlo, and Paco.  In the wild vicuna live in small herds made up of a dominant male, females and their young offspring.  Once a vicuna is 9 months old they will leave the herd that they were born in (a behaviour that is observed in many animal species and has evolved to avoid inbreeding). Females search for other herds to join while the males will form bachelor groups until they can form their own breeding herd.

Vicuna in their new enclosure

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