Chief Exective’s Blog

December 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

This week saw the Highland Wildlife Park celebrate not one, but two, very special birthdays as the UK’s only polar bears were another year older. Arktos and Walker, the popular polar playmates who celebrate their birthdays just days apart, were treated to special frozen fish cakes topped with (L)Walker and (R)Arktos Birthday5sardines to mark their 5th and 4th birthdays. Arktos, who is a year older than Walker, arrived at the Park in spring this year, and since their first introduction the pair quickly built up a remarkable bond – with visitors often spotting them play wrestling or chasing each other around their six acre enclosure.

Conservation is at the centre of RZSS’s work and this week several members of the Society’s staff attended the Species Action Framework (SAF) conference held at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE). A five year Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) programme concentrating efforts on 32 priority species in Scotland, RZSS has been involved in three of these species over the course of the programme, including the ‘flagship’ Scottish Beaver Trial (SBT) in Argyll. Over the coming years the SAF project will focus on ecosystems and species management regarding Scottish conservation.

I’m also delighted to announce RZSS won an award and a commendation from the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA). Our award was for a significant contribution to conservation breeding of the Polynesian tree snail, also known as the Partula snail; one of the lesser known, but highly successful conservation projects undertaken by RZSS in recent years. As well as this, RZSS was highly commended in recognition of the ground-breaking work on significant advances in zoo and wildlife medicine; primarily, the welfare advantages of keyhole surgery in Asiatic black bears rescued from illegal bile framing in Cambodia and Vietnam. This procedure was pioneered by one of Edinburgh Zoo’s veterinarians, Dr Romain Pizzi. It‘s a fantastic accolade for the Society to be honoured by BIAZA for the contribution RZSS makes to the wider conservation, education and research world.

MThis week was also the end of Scottish Book Week and some of the animals at Edinburgh Zoo joined in to help promote The Reading Hour – where everyone is encouraged to pick up a book. Our troop of 19 chimpanzees, Bertus the rhino and Dillon the armadillo were amongst the creatures involved in some reader material enrichment. Whilst some of the more curious animals investigated the newest page turners, others simply went for the shredding option – as to be expected – but all great fun and stimulation for them.

Lastly, Christmas shopping is probably on everybody’s mind just now, so here’s just a little reminder that you can also visit our gift shop online for unusual gifts – from pandas in tartan kilts, animal adoptions or keeper experiences – please visit

Until next week,



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