Chief Executive’s Blog

May 11, 2012 § Leave a comment


This week our giant pandas hit classrooms across the country, as primary and nursery school children throughout the United Kingdom received ‘panda milk’. The Society has formed a unique partnership with Robert Wiseman Diaries to create specially designed fresh milk cartons for school children, with fun panda facts and pictures, and a link to educational resources based on the Curriculum for Excellence – available through www.wiseman-dairies.co.uk/panda . In total the project will reach an incredible 1.7 million children every week.

I also want to tell you all about the new animal births at the Highland Wildlife Park. Although you wouldn’t think it was late spring by our current weather, our animals have definitely been guided by seasonal changes and a number of youngsters have arrived.

Bison CalfA European bison calf was born on 1st May. A male, the youngster is the first calf to be sired by new bull Tomek who joined us from Ireland in July last year. Born to first time mum Glen Doll, the calf has been named Glen Garry. This is line with tradition, with every youngster born to the herd being named after a Scottish glen.

A new litter of Scottish wildcat kittens has also been born. They’re just starting to come out of their box, but will be more regularly visible in just another week or two. A trio of Japanese macaques, or snow monkeys, also arrived into the world three weeks ago. Keepers have advised me that one of the babies was born to Angara, the group’s dominant female, so the new arrival is an important addition to their social group. One of the other babies is apparently already fairly mischievous!

Other news from the Highlands is that Elf, the new Arctic fox I mentioned recently, has been introduced to our male Houdini. A few days after their introduction mating behaviour was actually seen. Although hugely encouraging for next year, we doubt that this means pups for this year as the species are highly seasonal breeders. However, even more excitingly, our new male Amur tiger Marty has been breeding with one of our females, so you never know we could have some news in future months.

Staying with the Highland Wildlife Park, the attraction is due to celebrate its 40th Anniversary on 27th June this year. Opening its doors to the public back in the summer of 1972, the Park has been home to many famous animal faces over the years. As part of the celebrations to mark this milestone in the Park’s history, we’re looking for old photographs and interesting stories to make up an exhibition that will be open to visitors throughout the summer months. If you have anything you’d like to share, please either write via post to the visitor services team at the Park or email wildlife@rzss.org.uk

Not forgetting Edinburgh Zoo, this week we had lots of male animals move in. Two swamp wallabies arrived from Santa Ana Zoo in California, a dik-dik and a golden cat arrived from Rotterdam Zoo (also with them was our only female new arrival – a kudu!), and then finally a male tapir from Dortmund Zoo. I hope you enjoy meeting them all shortly.

There have also been lots of pairs of animals at the Zoo giving us hope of offspring based on their behaviour of late, with the dwarf mongoose and aardwolf pairs in particular getting us to keep our fingers crossed. I’m also told our Steller’s sea eagles are showing significant interest in a nest that our keepers recently built and installed in their enclosure.

The education team at Edinburgh Zoo has asked me to convey that their ever popular summer school is now totally booked up for this year. The application system for next year’s summer school will open in early 2013.

Up in Argyll, the home to the Scottish Beaver Trial, guided walks around the picturesque site commence from Tuesday 15th May. The first event takes place at Dubh Loch in the early evening and then these dusk walks carry on through the summer months until the end of August. Visit www.scottishbeavers.org.uk/news/events for further information.

Finally, for the green fingered, on Friday 18th May it’s Plant Conservation Day and our gardens team here at Edinburgh Zoo will host their annual plant sale in the Budongo Lecture Theatre between 11am and 3pm. Drop in for some bargains grown here on site at the Zoo, including some quite unusual tropical species.

Best wishes

Hugh Roberts

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