Chief Executive’s Blog

August 10, 2012 § Leave a comment


Impressions

It’s been another busy week and I’m starting to get my bearings around both Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park. It’s been great to get to know the parks themselves a little better – there are a whole lot of acres to cover and I feel like I’ve been around just about every single one! It’s also been really enjoyable to get to know some of  the staff a little bit better and to hear more thoughts on what we can do and how we can work together to improve an already great day out  in the Highlands and, in Scotland’s capital. I have been at both sites during sunny days when the number of visitors has been very high and I want to thank all the teams for their hard work and warm and welcoming customer service. It is lovely to see and hear the excited voices of children of all ages discover the wonders of nature through what we do.

Now on to the news…

The herd of Chinese goral at Highland Wildlife Park – the only place in the UK that you can see these animals – have welcomed a new arrival last weekend. It will be a little while longer yet before keepers will be able to sex and name this new youngster, who is the latest kid of mother Beijing and father Bobby. Natives to Eastern Russia, Western China and Thailand, these sure-footed climbers can be found high up in the cold mountainous ranges, and are experts at navigating steep rocky terrain.

One of the ways RZSS contributes to the IUCN Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) is through Arnaud Desbiez, our Latin America Regional Coordinator.  He convenes CBSG Brazil which this year have successfully run and contributed to several species conservation workshops.  Alongside this the publication of the status of tapirs, peccaries and deer in Brazil was completed and published early 2012 and a joint publication with the IUCN Cat Specialist Group on Jaguar Conservation Planning presented the process, tools and some results from the Jaguar National Action Planning Workshop held in 2009.  A busy year so far with some significant contributions to conservation!

This summer has certainly been one to remember in terms of sporting achievement and some of our animal residents at Edinburgh Zoo have been gearing up to show off their sporting ability this week. Our troop of buff-cheeked gibbons were going for gold and showing off their gymnastic ability. Perfectly adapted to life high up in the tree canopy, these animals have incredibly long arms, about double the length of their body in fact. They use a unique method of movement called ‘brachiation’ which involves swinging hand over hand, branch to branch. A fascinating fact about buff-cheeked gibbons is that all babies are born blonde, so that they blend in against their mums hair, shortly after they turn black and then when females reach sexual maturity they turn back to being blonde. Definitely well worth a swing by the gibbon enclosure, and you’ll more than likely hear them before you see them, with their early morning ‘song’ which is a loud series of whoops and twitters.

Looking ahead to next week, we have the first of two very special birthdays coming up. Yang Guang is going to be nine years old on 14th August and we have a whole load of birthday surprises lined up for our visitors. You can leave a birthday message for Yang Guang, decorate a cake and much more. Head to our website for more information on our panda birthday events www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/whatson

Lastly, some great news from our colleagues at Belfast Zoo.  Five chicks have hatched to 40 of our Gentoo penguins currently holidaying there while we carry our renovation work on their pool.

Best, Chris

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