Chief Executive’s Blog

April 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

Well you may have read about it already but if not, I have great pleasure in sharing some very exciting news from the Society.  At the end of last week we announced the appointment of a new permanent chief executive officer, Professor Chris West, one of the world’s leading authorities on animal conservation.  He will join us here in Scotland as CEO of the RZSS mid-summer.

Chris is currently CEO of the Royal Zoological Society of South Australia (RZSSA) and an excellent appointment for the RZSS.  His previous roles have also been as Zoological Director of the Zoological Society of London and Chief Curator at Chester Zoo.

I have no doubt he will further develop our wonderful visitor attractions and deliver the Society’s charitable remit in conservation, research and education.

As interim CEO, I will remain in post until Professor West joins us.  The date is still to be confirmed though I shall be here for a good few months yet.

Other big milestones for the Society include the drawing to a close of the Scottish Wildcat Project.  A hugely significant project for Scottish wildcat conservation, the undertaking has offered a unique insight into one of our most endangered species as less than 400 wildcats are thought to remain in Scotland today.

Funded by Scottish Natural Heritage’s Species Action Framework, and with significant contributions from the Cairngorms National park Authority and RZSS, the project has done great work in developing a greater understanding of the species and raising public awareness of the threat to them.  I really recommend paying a visit to for further information.

Staying with the Highlands, a beautiful new female arctic fox arrived at the Highland Wildlife Park earlier this week.  She’s currently in the main enclosure and separated from our male, but the two will be introduced in the next day or so.

Our two polar bear males have also become firm pals.  The introductions between Arktos and Walker went so well, that the bears are now living together full time in their five acre bachelor pad.  Apparently the two have been sleeping nose to nose – how would that not melt even the hardest heart?

They’re certainly drawing in the crowds with their playful antics as we had our fourth busiest day ever in the park’s 40 years over Easter.  I’ve heard Walker has even temporarily given up hardhats – his favourite toy – in favour of play fighting and swimming with his new companion.

We’re actually currently running a competition online for one lucky winner to go behind the scenes and witness a training session first hand with the polar bears.  It’s through the Highland Wildlife Park Facebook page, just visit before 26th May if you’d like to be in with the chance of winning this pretty exclusive prize.

On another lighter note, a selection of luxury panda tartan products are now available via our on-site shop at Edinburgh Zoo and our online store.  There’s everything from silk scarfs to hip flasks, and ladies bags to cufflinks.  If there’s a panda fan in your life and you need a gift, I’d recommend taking a look as they’ve been very popular with visitors and online shoppers.

Until next week,

Best wishes

Hugh Roberts


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