Chief Executive’s Blog

June 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

The news from the Highlands this week is that the extremely rare and endangered Scottish wildcat kittens that were born in early April have been sexed.  A male and a female, we’ve decided to name them Brave and Merida.  Their names are taken from the highly anticipated animation movie ‘Brave’ that’s set in the Scottish Highlands and, since one of the kittens has been showing his bravado and the other is feisty like the main character of the film, the names seem appropriate!  Merida and Brave have been spotted tumbling around together and running across their overhead walkway.  With only around 400 of these iconic Scottish felines left in the UK, these excitable youngsters are well worth a visit.

Over to Edinburgh Zoo and the presentations section will soon welcome two new Taiwan beauty snakes from Antwerp.  Our bird section informs us that the female ocellated turkey is sitting on a clutch of eggs and a chestnut-backed thrush is busy nest building already.  At the Highland Wildlife Park it’s a true baby boom with a kiang foal, two Himalayan tahr calves, another Japanese macaque baby, several more red deer calves and a snowy owl chick also hatched.

This week has also seen some exciting events take place at Edinburgh Zoo.  Our Bioblitz event was very popular, with people putting their native species knowledge to the test and trying to identify as many native birds, insects, mammals and plants as possible.  A Deep Blue Parent and Baby class, run by the education team at Edinburgh Zoo, was booked up very quickly and focused on Scotland’s dynamic sea life.  Scotland’s waters are teaming with life, so if you want to learn more about the Deep Blue project please visit

Our conservation team has had some fantastic news.  They have just been awarded funding by the selection committee of the EAZA Ape Campaign to spearhead a project in the Budongo Forest in Uganda.  The project focuses on identifying possible conservation opportunities for chimpanzees in unprotected areas of the Budongo Forest.  The overall aim is to stop the habitat and food source loss that chimpanzees in the south of the forest are experiencing due to deforestation and a growing population.  The 15 month programme will work with local communities to develop methods that deliver the best possible results to the fragmented chimpanzee populations and the locals.

Looking forward to next week, the Highland Wildlife Park will celebrate its 40th anniversary on 27th June.  Opening its doors in the summer of 1972, the park has been home to some big characters over the years, including Hercules the brown bear, Felicity the puma and more recently the late polar bear Mercedes.  The park is now of course home to another playful polar bear duo – Walker and Arktos.

To celebrate this milestone in the Park’s history, a special ‘Past and Present’ exhibition – complete with photographs and highlights – will go on display next week.  As well as this, there will also be other activities taking place from 25th June to 1st July.

I am also pleased to announce that, as of next week, the ever-popular hilltop animal antics shows will now be on twice a day, 12.15pm and 3pm, at Edinburgh Zoo. If the thought of the walk up there doesn’t thrill you, then just jump on our regular hilltop safari bus that will take you to the top of the Park and the hilltop arena.  Our shows feature a variety of animals, such as turkey vultures taking flight, a kune kune pig and Dillon our three banded armadillo.  Dillon is a firm favourite at the Zoo and can often be spotted running around on the grass or chasing after a keeper’s shoes!

Best wishes,

Hugh Roberts


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