Chief Executive’s Blog

November 2, 2012 § Leave a comment


I’m delighted to say that the Highland Wildlife Park welcomed another new arrival to the Park’s ever growing herd of European bison – one of the largest herds of these impressive animals in the UK. The calf is the latest bison baby to be sired by Irish bull Tomek, who arrived at the Park last year. The youngster is currently hidden away in the long grass; this is typical behaviour for the mum to be displaying as she would hide her new born shortly after birth to protect it from any predators in the wild. Extremely powerful, these are Europe’s largest land mammal, with bulls weighing in between a staggering 600kg and 1,000kg. In addition to being successful breeders of this threatened species, the Park also manages and co-ordinates the entire European Bison population as holders of the European Endangered Species breeding programme.

Staying with the news from the Highlands, the Park hosted a native species conference for school children. The RZSS education team were also joined by Roy Dennis MBE, a field ornithologist and wildlife consultant, renowned for his work on the conservation of rare birds. The event focused on Scotland’s native species and included workshops from the team on some of RZSS’ conservation projects, such as watervoles and beavers.

This week saw all things Halloween creep into Edinburgh Zoo. The clan of meerkats were in for a treat as keepers transformed meerkat mound – home to the Zoo’s 11 characterful meerkats – into a zombie graveyard. The special themed enrichment was complete with tombstones filled with meal worms and insects, as well as these there were also spooky carved pumpkins that were kindly donated by Sainsbury’s, filled with a few more insects.

Enrichment is a key part of what we do at both Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park and is a way of enriching the lives of our animals. There are many different types such as social, cognitive, physical and food, it encourages natural behaviours  such as foraging and gets the animals to problem solve, meaning they have to work to get their food; Halloween is the perfect opportunity for the animal keepers to go all out and get creative!

Meerkats may be small animals but they have a hugely fascinating social dynamic, and work together as a team, with everyone having their own role to play. It certainly didn’t take them long to investigate the new Halloween additions to their enclosure, and they wasted no time in shredding the tombstones to get to the food! There’s certainly never a dull moment with these little characters about, well worth a pit stop on your next trip to the Zoo.

I’m extremely pleased that we are once again offering Life Membership to RZSS, now animal and conservation fans can be our members for life. There are so many great benefits to being a member of RZSS, including unlimited free entry to both Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park and access to our exclusive members’ portal are among the benefits of being a member. If you are interested in becoming a life member or want to discover more about this offer please visit http://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/support/membership/lifemembership.html

Finally, this Saturday 3rd November sees Scottish Opera pop up at Edinburgh Zoo. Scotland’s national opera company will be performing A Little Bit of The Magic Flute at two pop up sessions at 11am and 12.30pm. These 20 minute musical tasters are free with Zoo admission and will be brought to life with colourful illustrations and a storyteller. For more information on this event be sure to visit http://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/whatson/

Until next week,

Best, Chris

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