Chief Executive’s Blog

June 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Another new blackFlo and white arrival made an impression at Edinburgh Zoo this morning. Flo the striped skunk arrived recently to join our resident skunk Fergus. As with nature, not everything goes to plan, so Fergus and Flo are currently learning how to get along. The striped duo didn’t exactly hit it off straight away and I’m told scent and fur flew. Quite common with skunks, apparently it can take them some time to warm to new mates. So far Flo is often out and about in her enclosure, but Fergus is much harder to spot and prefers the cover of his den.


At the Highland Wildlife Park, Marty the Amur tiger was unveiled to press yesterday. Our new male, who fairly recently arrived, has now moved in with one of the younger females Dominica, after her sister Natalia moved to a zoo in Portugal. As many of you will know, Amur tigers are exceptionally rare and are formally listed as endangered. It is estimated that there are only between 400 and 450 left in the wild and that the population once numbered less than 50. Our Park is a great success story when it comes to breeding these rare and striking animals and it is hoped that this new young couple, Marty and Dominica, will have the same success when it comes to producing cubs as Dominica’s late parents, Sasha and Yuri.


This week one of our WildGenes research scientists, Dr Helen Senn, attended an EAZA conservation conference in Vienna. She gave a talk about the genetic work that the unit is doing in support of the conservation of endangered arid-land antelope – oryx, addax and dama gazelle. DNA is being used to help with long term conservation and gradual wild reintroduction programmes; it is extremely beneficial in improving survivorship and longevity in reintroduced populations.


Also on the conservation front, here at Edinburgh Zoo our keepers are assisting researchers working with pygmy hippos in the wild. They have been asked to measure the necks of Ellen and Otto our adults here in order to fit wild pygmy hippos with radio collars – extremely useful research tools with minimal impact on the wild animal itself. The great relationship between our hoofstock keepers and the hippos make this possible. It is a great example of how RZSS in-situ work can assist projects carried out in the wild.


There’s also been a big panda switch this week. Well at least online anyway. We gave our members exclusive access to female giant panda Tian Tian when the panda cams went live in December, but now we’re doing a switch round. Members will get exclusive access to male Yang Guang and non-members will be able to see Tian Tian online 24/7. You may notice just how tidy Tian Tian is compared to Yang Guang, who scatters shredded bamboo over almost every inch of his enclosure.


Finally, on Tuesday 5th June Edinburgh Zoo will celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with a range of arts and crafts activities for children. In our restaurants you will find Pimms, retro cupcakes, coronation chicken and scones on offer. Our chimpanzees in Budongo Trail at Edinburgh Zoo will celebrate with union jack pillow cases filled with treats on Monday 4th at 9.00am, and at the Highland Wildlife Park the snow monkeys will get their daily snacks in union jack paper cups at 11.30am.


Best wishes,


Hugh Roberts



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