Chief Executive’s Blog

April 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

After a roller coaster of a week, the panda breeding season at Edinburgh Zoo is now officially over for 2012.

It has been an exciting time for everyone and an incredible experience for us here at Edinburgh Zoo – and even for our two pandas! Although full mating did not take place, we’re very encouraged by the natural attraction between the two animals, as like humans, not all male and female pandas are interested in each other.  Although panda cubs would have been a bonus this year, we appreciate that the pandas have only just arrived and have had limited time to settle.  At the end of the day, this is year one of a ten year conservation project here at Edinburgh Zoo and as animal conservationists and scientists, we have learnt a huge amount in such a short time.

But believe it or not, it’s not all about giant pandas.  We had two huge arrivals at the Highland Wildlife Park this week that I want to tell you about.  A new male polar bear, Arktos, arrived from Hanover Zoo and a rare Amur tiger called Marty came from  Lisbon Zoo.

At only four years old, Arktos is still a juvenile polar bear like three year old Walker.  Rather than fighting, young male polar bears often bond and make excellent companions.  All the signs are good so far and we hope the two bears will shortly live together in the large specially designed five acre enclosure at the Park.  Walker has a very playful character and a wrestling companion with a bear of similar age and size will be hugely beneficial for him.  I’m looking forward to seeing the two hopefully hit it off.  The RZSS is particularly proud to have not only one, but two polar bears – the only polar bears on display in the UK.

The new Amur tiger is a very welcome addition also.  In time it is hoped he will breed with one of the daughters of Sasha, who we sadly lost recently.  Amur tigers are an extremely rare species and any cubs would be a welcome addition to the world’s limited population.

I’m also delighted to tell you that our clan of meerkats has settled into their new home at Edinburgh Zoo this week and really seem to be delighting our visitors.  They all have individual roles in their group – sentry, babysitter, hunter – and if you watch them you can seem them doing exactly what their title suggests. Brought back by popular demand, our visitors requested that these little creatures return to the Zoo and we were happy to do just that!

This week also saw a number of people take part in our bird breakfast as part of our Science Festival programme of events.  We have many native species of birds nesting in the trees at Edinburgh Zoo and bird enthusiasts took to the park to try and catch a glimpse of them. From what I hear it was a great success with a green woodpecker, a great spotted woodpecker and tree creeper among the birds identified, I’m told the tree creeper can be particularly tricky to spot so that was a big plus for those who came along.

A final reminder – even if you don’t have a ticket for the pandas, do come along as Spring unfolds. There is much to see at the Zoo and the Wildlife Park.

Until next week

Best wishes,

Hugh Roberts


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