Chief Executive’s blog

August 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

I am still really enjoying exploring both sites and meeting people and given the size and complexity of our organisation will be for some time to come! Nothing can beat local conversations about specific issues and shared interests and I really value insights and a sense of enthusiasm. To add to this more personal way of communicating I will ‘do’ the first of what will become a quarterly meeting/presentation exercise soon to share some impressions and ideas, information on how we are doing, a brief briefing on the penguin project and some insight into the role of the Board and how our organisation so depends on volunteers and members.

As August ebbs away, it’s definitely been a busy month for both the Highland Wildlife Park and Edinburgh Zoo. August saw Highland Wildlife Park have its busiest day in over 26 years and it welcomed even more newborns to the Highlands – making this year a record birth year for babies.

Things at the Zoo have also been equally busy as August celebrated two extra special birthdays, as Tian Tian and Yang Guang turned nine. Visitors helped these two celebrate in style and numbers soared with people flocking to the Zoo to wish them happy birthday and take part in all the birthday activities and events. We also added to our selection of Animal Experiences this month and we now offer experiences covering meerkats, birds, bugs and beasties as well as the chance to be a junior zoo keeper. We’ve added in a new half day experience for adults too. For more details and information on these fantastic new experiences please visit

Specific animal news involves Tino the banteng – a large type of wild cattle – which has been moved to be by the otters. This five year old boy – native to Southeast Asia can be easily spotted due to his white bottom and striking horns. These large animals are themselves under threat in the wild due to hunting and loss of the habitat. I highly recommend a pit stop to see this impressive youngster on your next trip to the Zoo.

It’s also fair to say that this month has seen us get our fair share of rain across Scotland, but I’m told that the rockhopper penguins in particular at Edinburgh Zoo made the most of it, taking to their pool and enjoying the pitter patter of rain on the rocks. These characters certainly draw in the crowds and I was delighted to see how well-loved they are by visitors…even in this fascinating Scottish climate!

I’m extremely pleased to say that Edinburgh Zoo’s members’ and adopters night last Friday was yet another great success, with well over a thousand people turning out for the occasion. It was a lovely opportunity to meet some of our members, adopters and guests and I look forward to the next event.

News from the Highlands is that our breeding pair of Pallas’ cats, male Beeboop and female Alula, have produced kittens. A real surprise for the team at the Park as these felines are seasonal breeders who usually giving birth to a litter in April or May, but a lovely surprise nonetheless. It will be a while longer before we know exactly how many kittens have been born and are able to sex and name them. Pallas’ cats – named after the man who discovered them, Peter Pallas, in the 18th century – are perfectly adapted to life in a cold climate. With thick fur and low set ears, these help insulate them from the cold temperatures common in their native high altitude habitats of Central Asia and China.

As a conservation charity, you will no doubt know we work throughout the world. Our regional coordinator in Latin America, Arnaud Desbiez, was involved in running a three day workshop on the reintroduction of scimitar-horned oryx. Over 32 delegates from 16 international organisations and government agencies gathered in N’Djamena, Chad, focusing on the reintroduction of this rare antelope to the Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim Game Reserve in central Chad. These impressive animals are now entirely extinct in the wild and rely on conservation and breeding programmes to ensure their survival.

Until next week,

Best, Chris


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