Chief Executive’s Blog

March 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Now that the weather is becoming milder, new arrivals are starting to venture outside at Edinburgh Zoo.   I’d recommend in particular watching out for swamp wallaby joeys that are about to emerge from their mother’s pouches.  Look carefully and you can see the odd head or foot sticking out.

As you will remember, some of our Gentoo penguins have gone on a mini-holiday to Belfast Zoo while we carry out maintenance of their enclosure.  Our colleagues over the water have kindly sent us this photograph of our birds settling in and making use of their new outdoor pool.  Our six Kings, including Sir Nils Olav, will move down to Birdland in the south of England later this week.

You can still see our collection of Rockhopper penguins which have increased in number recently with birds joining them from Vienna.  The male Rockhoppers have moved to the old Rockhopper penguin enclosure on the big cat walkway, and the females will move up next week.  Our keepers have done it this way to trigger the natural breeding cycle – well they do say absence makes the heart grow fonder!  The males are currently settling themselves into their new enclosure and are picking nest sites.  When their females arrive next week we should see the birds starting to pair up.  Our remaining 24 Gentoos will move to Barbary Rock, the usual rock hyrax home, later this week.

As some of you may already know, Baginda our female Sumatran tiger became poorly shortly after arriving at the Zoo.  However, with the sterling care of our veterinary team, she has made a full recovery and is now in the process of being introduced to Tibor the male.  So far they’ve both responded well to each other, but only time will tell whether they will mate.

Also at Edinburgh Zoo, our three male painted hunting dogs – Tango, Blade and Two-socks – have settled in well and will be joined by two females as soon as their quarantine period is over.

A word on some of our work which doesn’t take place in our parks.  The Scottish Beaver Trial, a partnership between RZSS and the Scottish Wildlife Trust, has really grown in popularity as a tourist destination in Mid Argyll.  So much so, that the project is in the process of appointing a new Education Ranger to engage with visitors at the site and to lead a new programme of public and educational events.  They will launch on Saturday 7 April with Beaver Explorer workshops for children, followed by the launch of  guided tours of Dubh Loch from Tuesday 15 May, these will contine every Tuesday evening right through the summer period.   Visitors can see signs of beaver activity:  such as gnawed trees, branches stripped of bark and beaver canals.  The beaver dam in particular shows what industrious beavers can do and lucky visitors may even catch a glimpse of the creatures themselves.  For further information please visit

Finally, it’s a pleasure to say that, WildGenes, our genetics team, has just celebrated one year of being a fully operational  part of RZSS.  The work of Dr Rob Ogden and Dr Ross McEwing  bridges the gap between university research and conservation.  The genetic data they make available is not only for the management of populations in zoos and in the wild, but also in areas as divserse as  wildlife crime.  Key projects  worked on during the last 12 months include beaver genomics and tiger forensics.  All pioneering work at the forefront of  science genetics and it all takes place in a small laboratory here at Edinburgh Zoo.

Best wishes,

Hugh Roberts


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