Chief Executive’s Blog

October 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

Red deer stag by Alex Riddell

Some very exciting news this week from the Highlands, the annual rut has is underway at Highland Wildlife Park. Roaring and charging are all signs that the annual red deer rut and breeding season has started for the Park’s 45 strong herd of red deer. Stags, Thor and Snap are vying for dominance and control of the hinds in the herd, the objective of this natural occurrence is to mate with the hinds and keep away any other males. Thor has the advantage over Snap and can be heard roaring to keep this rival away, although sometimes this doesn’t always work and they charge at one another, resulting in Thor chasing Snap off. It looks like Thor is in with the chance of retaining his position as dominant male of the herd for another year.

Oriental short-clawed otter pup by Michael Gilburt

It was exciting to see the five Oriental short-clawed otter pups venture out and about this week at Edinburgh Zoo. These new arrivals are the latest addition to the Zoo’s raft of otters, and are the third litter of pups to Elena and Ray since they arrived in 2010, making them old hands when it comes to the parenting game. Father Ray is still very protective of his 10 week old youngsters, made up of three girls and two boys, who keepers have yet to name.

This particular species of otter is the smallest in the world, weighing around 3.5kg and are known for their extremely agile, hand-like front paws as well as their strong tails which act like a rudder that they use for navigating and propelling themselves in the water. If you’re keen to see these characters on your next visit to the Zoo, I’m told that early morning or late afternoon is usually the best time to see them.

The ever busy WildGenes lab team – the DNA lab located at Edinburgh Zoo – have been on tour this past week.  Helen Senn has been discussing European carnivore genomics in Denmark, Rob Ogden attended the EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) annual meeting in Austria, along with myself and other colleagues from RZSS. This proved most interesting and was a great opportunity to discuss and talk through what we have been up to and all the exciting things we have to look forward to. We are hosting this large and important international gathering next year which fits well with it being Edinburgh Zoo’s centenary. Ross McEwing has just returned from his trip to northern Thailand, where he was advising on conservation genetic management.  All three trips aim to develop and foster new RZSS Conservation and Research projects over the coming years – a truly exciting prospect for us all.

Lastly, looking ahead to the weekend which sees the RZSS education team tackle all things stamp and wildlife related. On Saturday 6th October the team, who have been invited by the South West Scotland Philatelic Societies, will be carrying out a Wild Workshop with an Amazing Asia theme at Prestwick Community Centre in Prestwick. Drop by to this fantastic free event between 10am and 4pm to investigate skulls and skins from lots of different Asian animal species. As well as this there will be displays and demonstrations complete with stamps featuring pandas and other wildlife, all natives to Asia. For more information and the full address of this event and any other upcoming events please visit

Until next week,

Best, Chris


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