Chief Executive’s Blog

March 2, 2012 § Leave a comment


It’s difficult to write this blog without mentioning our pandas as we are at such an important stage in preparing them for breeding. Hormone testing has begun on Tian Tian by our panda keepers and vets who test her urine and swab her to establish her readiness for mating. As from this week, batches of samples have moved from being analysed once a week, to three times per week. Colleagues in Chester Zoo are providing the analysis of these tests, as the UK’s leading endocrinologist is based there.  We were also joined this week by a team of international experts in panda breeding to help us with this extremely important stage in our conservation and research work.

Visiting the pandas has been made even easier with the start of a partnership with Stagecoach, which will run a daily bus service from Aberdeen and Ayr, seven days a week. We look forward to welcoming even more visitors from around Scotland.

Continuing our conservation news, we launched a new website called Deep Blue in partnership with the Scottish Mammal Research Unit of St Andrews. The site is packed with interesting facts about Scotland’s marine life and you can learn about marine conservation projects in Scotland. You can find the website at www.deepbluescotland.org.uk .  For any budding marine biologists or even those who just want to know more about Scotland’s water life, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Visitors to the Zoo from this weekend will start to see some changes to the penguin pool – noticeably a distinct lack of penguins! Don’t worry, our penguins are all well but we are having to move them around a bit while we carry out intensive maintenance on the pool. It’s something you would expect with a structure which was originally built in the 70s and is part and parcel of maintaining the Zoo’s infrastructure. You will be able to find our Rockhoppers in an enclosure near the big cat walkway, and you may be treated to a very up-close encounter with them as our recent experience of using this enclosure for penguins that went to China saw them jumping up on the window ledge – much to the delight of visitors. Our Gentoos are moving to the site of our rock hyrax – the rock hyrax are being housed in a temporary enclosure elsewhere. Our six King Penguins will take a bit of a holiday and move to Birdland in Glouchestshire until the work is done, and when they return we hope to add female Kings to our colony.  Birdland are also experts in managing Kings and we are grateful to them for looking after our most iconic birds for a couple of months.  This is the best time for us to undertake this work, before the breeding season starts.

I’m informed that tickets are selling fast for a Behind the Scenes Photography Tour of the Highland Wildlife Park on Saturday 24th March.  Visitors get to explore the park with an experienced guide and even get to go behind the scenes to see feeding time with Walker, our polar bear.  Please do call 01540 651976 or email wildlife@rzss.org.uk for further details.  Other dates are scheduled later on in the year.

Finally, our giant pandas could even be responsible for inspiring another pairing – we had our very first marriage proposal on the panda walkway recently. Congratulations to the lucky couple!

Best wishes,

Hugh Roberts

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