Chief Executives Blog

July 11, 2012 § Leave a comment


We are delighted to announce the recent arrival of five European grey wolf pups at the Highland Wildlife Park to parents Elara and Puika. Now six weeks old, the pups are actively exploring their surroundings. Wolves have been an iconic species at the Park since its opening in the early 70s and these are the first pups born there in 12 years. This successful breeding story is made even more special as it takes place during the Park’s 40th anniversary year, so with this in mind keepers have decided to name two of the pups Ruby (or Rueben) and Forty. Although it will be a little while longer before these pups are sexed, competitions will be held to find names for the three other wolf pups. These striking animals are definitely not to be missed, so be sure to head to Wolf Wood on your next visit to the Park to catch a glimpse of these youngsters.

Other news from the Highlands this week is that the new kid on the block has started to venture out and about. The Turkmenian markhor kid, named Nettle, was born on 20th June 2012. Keepers decided Nettle was the perfect name as mum Vicky took to lying in a bed of nettles shortly before giving birth, and it seems that Nettle is living up to her name as she too can often be spotted in amongst the nettles. Turkmenian markhaors are the largest of the goat species and are truly impressive animals to look at; the males have large corkscrew like horns which can grow to over a metre and a half in length.

I am also delighted to announce that Edinburgh Zoo has appointed a writer in residence. Eluned Rees will host several creative writing workshops on 12th and 13th July, with sessions for both adults and children, that take inspiration from four Native American medicine animals: the bear, wolf, eagle and buffalo. For more information and times please visit www.edinburgh.zoo.org.uk/whatson . Booking is essential so please call 0131 314 0334.

At Edinburgh Zoo the pygmy hippo family has been making the most of the recent wet conditions. Ellen, Otto and their youngster Eve have taken to having a dip in their moat at the bottom of their outside paddock, not usually deep enough, the family are delighting in their extra swimming area. Pygmy hippos are ideally suited to water and have muscular valves that can close their ears and nostrils. Interestingly, given their love of water, pygmy hippos have to be taught to swim.

The bird team at Edinburgh Zoo has been working on an extremely interesting corvid project. Last summer the team banded around 55 wild crows, a mixture of chicks and adults that live onsite at Edinburgh Zoo, as part of a project to learn more about these fascinating birds. For those of you who didn’t know, crows are extremely intelligent animals and incredibly efficient at problem solving. Crows are also known for ‘caching’ their food and they will often hide food in different locations, then come back for it later on. The study aims to discover more about foraging behaviours, distances they travel, nesting sites and the social behaviours of this wild population of crows. The team are now hoping to band more crows and start to build up a bigger picture of the lives and behaviours of these birds.

Iain Valentine, our director of research and conservation, and Rob Thomas, one of our conservation managers, attended the BIAZA (British and Irish Associations of Zoos and Aquariums) Parliamentary Reception at Westminster. Hosted by Andrew Rosindell MP, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Zoos and Aquaria as well as the APPG on UK Overseas Territories, the event was a celebration of the biodiversity of the UK, its Territories and the Commonwealth in recognition of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Finally, in last week’s blog I mentioned the exciting project work that Ross Poulter, presentations keeper at Edinburgh Zoo, is carrying out for the aspen hoverfly. These incredibly rare and endangered insects require such a specific habitat which can be a little tricky to come by, so Ross is appealing to anyone that may have aspen trees to fell or ones that may have fallen to contact him as he can put them to good use. You can contact Ross on rpoulter@rzss.org.uk or at Edinburgh Zoo on 0131 334 9171

Until next week,

Hugh Roberts

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