Chief Executive’s Blog

November 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

It was birthday celebrations this week at The Budongo Trail in Edinburgh Zoo, as Sophie the chimpanzee turned 31. Perfect enrichment, the lively chimps explored and tucked into present boxes filled with straw and food like fruit, nuts and oat balls made by their keepers. Sophie arrived at the Zoo in 2012 from the Netherlands and quickly become a favourite with the other chimps; although she is quite low ranking, this middle-aged chimp often shows a feisty, as well as a gentle nature.

Staying with Edinburgh Zoo for now, two newborn green winged dove chicks are now fully fledged and have flown the nest. The two youngsters can be spotted testing out their flight skills in Brilliant Birds – home to many exotic and rare birds from across the globe. Green-winged doves are easily recognisable due to their emerald green wings, with males also sporting a grey patch on their head and shoulder. We pleased to say that Edinburgh Zoo has had great success in breeding these colourful birds.

Over to the Highlands, the Highland Wildlife Park will open their doors to offer free entry for one day only to celebrate St Andrews Day on 30th November. Well worth a trip, the 30thNovember is also the fifth

Photo by Kevin Schafer

birthday of one of our polar bear males, Arktos.

As a conservation charity, RZSS is involved in many conservation projects both in the UK and around the globe. One extremely exciting project is taking place in the Brazilian Pantanal – one of the world’s largest wetlands. The Giant Armadillo project aims to discover more about the elusive and mysterious giant armadillo, of which very little is known, and have had great success to date. Arnaud Desbiez, RZSS regional coordinator, and his team, have just undertaken several monitoring and research expeditions in a bid to discover more about these fascinating animals.

Photo by Kevin Schafer

Camera footage will enable the team to evaluate the population in Brazil, learn more about their natural history and ecology, and help to answer the question of why these animals are so rare. Keep up-to-date with the latest goings-on from this project by watching Arnaud’s video diary on YouTube

Lastly, I had the pleasure of giving a talk at the Annual Global Classroom Conference held in the RZSS education building at Edinburgh Zoo. It saw hundreds of secondary school students attend debates and workshops on the role of a 21st Century Zoo and the Role of the Modern Zoo. A subject I’m passionate about, there were some really interesting debates and thoughts over the two days and I was delighted to be involved.

Until next week,



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