Chief Executive’s Blog

November 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

Well the giant panda momentum and enthusiasm is certainly growing – with us here at Edinburgh Zoo, across Scotland and beyond – and we’re hoping to have some exciting news shortly.

 To welcome the pandas to the UK and celebrate their forthcoming arrival, the Chinese Embassy in the UK launched a competition for UK primary and secondary school children.  I was delighted to be asked to speak at the launch event down in London.

Primary children across the UK are invited to design and draw a poster to welcome Yang Guang and Tian Tian and to celebrate the friendship between the UK and China, and Secondary children are being asked to compose and deliver a short speech that will mark the arrival of the pandas and demonstrate enthusiasm for learning Chinese and about China.  For further information and details on how to enter, please visit

Closer to home, I’m delighted to tell you the duck pond at Edinburgh Zoo is going through an overhaul  and we’re developing it into more of an experience.  More news to follow soon!

The RZSS member’s forum has now gone live, where our members can access past issues of Life Links, exclusive videos and downloads, renew their membership online and discover more about spotlight animals.  For further information please visit

I’m also pleased to be able to tell you that our education department won an SQA Star Award for their ZEST programme.  Run by Alaina Macri, our Tertiary Education Officer, ZEST stands for Zoo and Environment Skills Training, and the programme integrates SQA qualifications with practical experience.   ZEST has doubled the number of students hosted in the programme since its launch in 2009 and we hope to continue going forward.


News of other awards, Grasslands our newly revamped and redesigned eatery at Edinburgh Zoo, won the Roses Interior Design Awards recently.  A prestigious industry award, it’s fantastic to have our rebranded and revitalised eatery recognised in such a way.

Grasslands has style and taste: Photo by Jon Paul Orsi

 Onto animal news, our month old Malayan Tapir, Nadira, was talked about all over the country last week – appearing in everything from the Sunday Times to the Indian Times.  Young Malayan tapirs are very unusual looking, with spots and stripes on dark fur – so she’s generated a lot of attention.

Meet Nadira the Malayan tapir

Finally, we’ve also had a new Sclater’s lemur join us at Edinburgh Zoo.  A male named Duke, he’s been showing a strong interest in one of the bossy females named Noemie. 

Scalater’s lemurs are the only primate species, other than humans, to have blue eyes and are pretty striking to look at.  You can see Duke, Noemie and our other red-bellied and mongoose lemurs in their large outdoor enclosures just below the Mansion House.

Duke is settling in well at Edinburgh Zoo: Photo by Jon Paul Orsi


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