Chief Executive’s Blog

April 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

Hello again,

Firstly I would like to commend the efforts of RZSS staff as well as experts from around the world during panda breeding season. Tian Tian, our female panda ovulated on Saturday and while her 36 hour breeding window showed she wanted to mate, her behaviour suggested she would not be responsive to our male panda, Yang Guang. Putting them together potentially posed risk of injury. In the wild this would not be a problem as she would find and mate with multiple partners during this short time. In the Zoo however, this means we used artificial insemination, the recommended method by the Chinese. This was ground-breaking science taking place for the first time in the UK. We now must all step back and wait until July or August to find out if Tian Tian is pregnant, but in the meantime more information about Edinburgh Zoo’s 2013 panda breeding season can be found here

Citrus-SaturdayAlso Last Saturday Edinburgh Zoo participated in Citrus Saturday in which two teams of schoolchildren setting up lemonade stands within the Zoo and competed to sell the most lemonade on the day. Each team was responsible for creating their own brand, recipe and marketing materials and is designed to encourage team building skills, confidence and entrepreneurial skills.

We have quite a few events happening across both Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park I would like to share with you:

Next Tuesday, 30th April, I will be giving a talk at the Royal Society of Edinburgh titled ‘From Gannets to Pandas – 100 Years of Progress at Edinburgh Zoo’. During the evening I will reflect on future challenges and diverse activities of zoos as they conduct scientific field programmes and education outreach in addition to breeding endangered species – and running major visitor attractions. In a world that is increasingly crowded, warming and damaged, the role of zoos is even more relevant as ’refugee camps’ and as centres for environmental awareness. This event is free, with tickets available to book online at

We are proud to be hosting two Dreamnight events in June – one at Edinburgh Zoo on Friday 7th June from 6pm – 9pm and one at the Highland Wildlife Park on Friday 21st June from 6pm – 8:30pm. Dreamnight is an event to give disadvantaged and terminally ill children and their families an opportunity to visit the Park and enjoy a free evening specially arranged for them. Staff have generously volunteered their time, and the evening will consist of animal talk/feeds, children’s entertainment, raffles and prizes, and the event will conclude with a barbecue on the patio for everyone.

Our first Zoo Nights event is only four weeks away now. On Friday 24th May why not come to the Zoo for a cocktail night with a difference? Visit your favourite animals to see how they act after dark and enjoy the array of entertainment on offer including a silent disco, street performers, face painting, champagne and tapas. For more information and to purchase tickets visit

In animal news, we now have a bird box webcam live on our website, which is currently home to a wild blue tit. At the moment she is building her nest, so is often out and about collecting materials but will soon be laying and incubating her eggs. This bird box is part of a larger programme of nest boxes with 40 now placed around the zoo. We’re asking visitors to look out for these boxes around the park and if they see a bird entering a box to let us know (they all have clear numbers on them). The bird box cam can be viewed here:

White-lipped-deer-cast-antlers-MarkMoving onto the Highland Wildlife Park the male white lipped deer finally dropped his antlers on Tuesday after being the last stag standing for a number of weeks. The Mishmi takin calf has had its cast removed and his progress will be monitored closely. As we are approaching summer the Park’s breeding period is almost upon us and after last year’s bumper number of births we are hoping for even more this year. The wolverines will be moving up to their new enclosure on Tuesday though it will be some settling in time before they are on view to the public.

Finally, I was delighted to hear MP Colin Keir reflect positively on the work of the RZSS in parliament last week. Colin’s full motion can be read here.

Best wishes



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