Chief Executive’s Blog

November 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

I start this week with some news about Edinburgh Zoo’s famous black and white animal residents…the giant pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang of course!

The 4th of December is the one year panda anniversary, yes around this time last year Edinburgh Zoo was preparing for the arrival of Tian Tian and Yang Guang – and what a fantastic year it has been. Over the last 12 months RZSS has achieved a vast amount in the conservation, research and education of these iconic animals, of which we are all extremely proud. The payment to China for our two giant pandas has helped rebuild the Wolong panda base – allowing them to continue the vitally important conservation work they carry out. RZSS has also welcomed and educated over 500,000 visitors about these captivating animals. In terms of research it has been a phenomenal year, we understand the nutritional needs, breeding behaviours and indeed the things needed to manage these two, very different animals to a fuller and greater extent.

It’s been an incredibly successful first year of learning and getting to know what makes Tian Tian and Yang Guang tick. At RZSS plans are already well underway to build and develop upon this first year and the future conservation, education and research work that will be conducted over the next few years. A truly exciting and fulfilling prospect.

This week saw Dr Romain Pizzi – part of the RZSS veterinary team – deliver a keynote speech at the 13th annual British Association of Paediatric Endoscopic Surgeons conference. Romain, a pioneering keyhole surgeon, was discussing the similarities and differences between keyhole surgery in human children and wildlife, and what both fields could learn from each other. He’s currently involved in various human paediatric surgery projects, from designing field surgery equipment for Sierra Leone, to neonatal cardiothoracic surgery training models.

The WildGenes team has been as busy as ever this week. Dr Rob Ogden was invited to present to students and colleagues at Nottingham University about the applied genetic research that we are carrying out here at RZSS.  Primarily, the talk focused on how conservation genetic management can feedback into academic studies of different wildlife species and evolutionary processes.

By Alex Riddell

News from the Highlands this week is that the two playful northern lynx kittens that were born earlier this year in May to mum and dad, Dimma and Switch, have been identified as a boy and a girl named Roots and Shoots. These youngsters were the first northern lynx kittens to be born at the Park in over 20 years; northern lynx are believed to be the type of lynx found historically in Scotland – so the arrival of these two new borns was a fantastic addition to the collection in this, the Parks 40th anniversary year.

Staying with the Highlands for now, with the festive season almost upon us I’m thrilled to say that Walker the mascot polar bear will be giving Santa a helping paw to turn on the Park’s Christmas lights between 5pm and 7.30pm on the 1st December. This event is free for all to attend. As well, starting on the 2nd December and running every Saturday and Sunday throughout December, children will be able to walk with Santa to Reindeer Wood to feed his reindeer. This event is included with Park entry price and takes place at 11.30am and 2.30pm. For more information on these events please visit the “what’s on” section at

Until next week,



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