Chief Executive’s Blog

March 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

This week I’m delighted to tell you about a variety of events and activities that fall under RZSS’ educational and research goals.

RZSS’ education department held an online Global Classroom event on 27th and 28th February for 120 secondary school students at a one day conference on 21st Century Zoos. A great passion of mine and of my colleagues, students learnt about the role of a modern zoo as educators and ex-situ and in-situ conservationists.

This weekend Edinburgh Zoo will also host the annual symposium of Association of British and Irish Wild Animal Keepers (ABWAK), with over 100 delegates attending and visiting Edinburgh.

We are also lucky enough to have two dedicated university students, currently studying in related fields, helping us gather behavioural research data on our two giant pandas as they enter breeding season. We’re delighted to be able to offer them this opportunity to further their studies, but also the information collated will help us to match up hormone data with behaviour data.

YG_EatingBamboo_1Still with giant pandas, the story that our male Yang Guang often listens to Smooth FM hit newspapers this week. Partially true, Sunshine does actually listen to the station, however unsurprisingly it has no connection with ‘getting him in the mood’ for breeding season! Yang Guang has always been more sensitive to noise than Tian Tian, and we find this animal husbandry technique, often used with species like parrots and dogs, desensitises him to noise and helps in to relax. We just play it quietly in his off show area and have done for some months now.

Iain Valentine, our Director of Giant Pandas, is currently visiting our colleagues out in China. In Beijing, Iain is visiting with the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) and other senior individuals within the State Forestry Administration (SFA) to feedback on the first year of the panda’s stay at Edinburgh Zoo. He’ll also be discussing how RZSS can even further contribute to the giant panda conservation work currently going on in China.  Then Iain is off down to Chengdu to see our other partners to see new facilities that have been built out in China since the 2008 earthquake and to discuss giant panda breeding in general with our expert colleagues out there.

My colleague Arnaud Desbiez, the RZSS coordinator for Latin American, tells me there have been a fantastic amount of views to footage of a giant armadillo baby…for further information please see last week’s blog, but  you can see the footage here – it is certainly worth a watch

Tickets have also just gone on sale for a fantastic new evening event at Edinburgh Zoo. Zoo Nights will launch in early summer. A brand new evening Edinburgh Zoo Nights Posterevent to make drinks after work a little wilder, join us for night time safaris, animal talks, animal handling, a silent discos, street performers, comedians, face paint, champagne and a cocktail tea party and bar, sushi and tapas and picnics on the lawn. Tickets have gone on sale now for events on 24th May and 28th June (6pm to 10pm) – please visit our website for further details.

Finally, we’re still looking for memories to help us celebrate Edinburgh Zoo’s Centenary year. If you or your family have an interesting memory of Edinburgh Zoo, please do get in touch with Sandie Robb in our education team on

A few lines or a short paragraph is all we need. If you have photos we’d love to see them as well. It can be an old memory or a recent one – we’d love to hear from you. We will be collecting your memories until late autumn this year and aim to collect 100 memories to celebrate our 100 years.

Best wishes,



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