Chief Executive’s Blog

September 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

News this week is that there is a Hero in the Highlands! The Highland Wildlife Park welcomed a five year old Przewalski’s – pronounced Sheh-val-skee – horse stallion called Hero; and after a period of quarantine following his arrival he joined the Park’s two mares, Ieda and Sara. The newly formed trio seem to have hit it off and can often be spotted nibbling each other as part of their grooming behaviour; it also helps build bonds amongst the herd. Excitingly for us, mating behaviour has already been spotted between Hero and Sara, so fingers crossed it could mean success for the Park in continuing to breed this endangered species. These animals are the only true wild horse left on the planet as the species has never been domesticated. Native to central Asia, they are perfectly suited to cold winter temperatures and grow a thick woolly coat to help keep the chill out.

At Edinburgh Zoo, our Dwarf Mongoose family welcomed three new kits recently and mother Elvina and father Elmo have been kept busy with their offspring who were quick to set off exploring the enclosure’s tunnels. Elvina and Elmo arrived in January this year, so it was a fantastic surprise when they had their first litter as we expected them to take a little longer to settle in. These social and curious creatures’ size has earned them the name of being Africa’s smallest carnivore, usually ranging between seven and 11 inches long.

As readers of this blog will be aware, as a conservation charity, we work both in the UK and abroad, restoring species, securing habitats and carrying out research. Romain Pizzi, one of our RZSS veterinary team, is off to Beijing Zoo at present as a visiting lecturer. An internationally respected specialist veterinary surgeon, Romain pioneered keyhole surgery on black bears rescued from bile farms in Vietnam, making for a less painful procedure and helping the bears to make a speedy recovery. He will be lecturing to 30 Chinese zoo vets from the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens (CAZG) as part of the First International Chinese Zoo Veterinary Symposium, which is in association with The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education and the Animals Asia Foundation.

Dr Arnaud Desbiez, our Latin America regional coordinator responsible for RZSS’ Pantanal Giant Armadillo Project out in Brazil, has been video blogging the project since it commenced in June 2011. We are now delighted to release a new video each week, following Arnaud and the journey of the project to date. The first video will be exclusively available for our members through their online portal this week; the vlogs will then also be accessible to everybody the following week on our YouTube channel An incredibly exciting project which aims to establish more about these elusive large animals’ ecology, biology and their function within the ecosystem, be sure to tune in for Arnaud’s weekly videos to discover more about the project and these fascinating animals.

Looking to next week’s up and coming events, Monday 17th September sees the Zoo Tots programme of pre-school events kick off at Edinburgh Zoo. With a variety of fun activities, arts, crafts, the programme is perfect for tots aged between six months and five years. The fun-filled schedule runs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until 23rd November from 11am to 3pm. To find out more about these events please visit

Until next week,

Best, Chris


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