The panda breeding season has drawn to a close now at Edinburgh Zoo, but another collection of famous black and white residents are still progressing steadily with their annual breeding excitement. Yes, of course, it’s penguin breeding season here once again.
Our birds, old and new, settled in very quickly into their new Penguins Rock enclosure and almost immediately claimed their nesting rings in the breeding area. The first gentoo egg was laid in early April and we now have a total of 35 eggs being kept warm by the birds. This year we have a mixture of new and old gentoo pairings, with quite a few birds just reaching maturity and breeding for the first time.
Our rockhoppers managed to lay five eggs, but unfortunately only one proved to be fertile and this then stopped developing. We have high hopes for our rockhopper penguins though we were joined by 12 new birds last year from Vienna Zoo and this year saw a number of new pairings. A fair few rockhoppers are still to reach maturity also, so watch this space in years to come. A rockhopper chick would be particularly special due to their endangered status.
Just in time for the eggs hatching, we are delighted to say our all new penguin cam is back and in high definition. Also watch out for the egg and chick counter arriving online soon!
Last week a new young black stork female arrived from Chester; she is currently housed with an East African crowned crane down in the aviary west of the lower duck ponds. A Madagascar teal female also came to us from Cornwall; currently in standard quarantine, she will go on display in the near future. Other news from our bird team is that our pair of cassowaries have been showing some breeding behaviour and are in with each other at present – so far, so good.
On the east side of Living Links, the onsite field station and research centre at Edinburgh Zoo for the study of primates that was developed in a unique partnership with RZSS and the University of St Andrews, our keepers micro-chipped and sexed two brown capuchin infants. The offspring of Penelope and Anita, both babies are female and our keeper’s will decide on names this week.
Onto other living collections at Edinburgh Zoo, but of a slightly different kind… Simon Jones our longstanding Curator of Plants & Head of Sustainability has advised me he received a lovely letter recently from the International Camellia Society to let him know that Edinburgh Zoo’s gardens have been reclassified as an ICS UK Garden of Special Interest. Well done to the Gardens team
Onto education, on Friday 26th April we had 23 science, biology and chemistry teachers from over 15 different Scottish secondary schools come to Edinburgh Zoo to take part in a teacher training day. A Continuing Professional Development programme, RZSS offered this course in conjunction with the University of St Andrews. All secondary schools in Scotland were invited to send relevant teachers with a view to our experts helping with their curriculum learning. The attendees took part in a chimpanzee and human chromosome workshop, enjoyed a general talk on chimpanzees and took a tour of the Living Links facility. Key learning resources are now available on the Living Links website available for use in schools on various aspects of primatology www.living-links.org/resources/materials-for-teachers
At the Highland Wildlife Park, keepers have named the young Mishmi takin, who recently had the cast removed from his healed broken leg, Chumbi after the Chumbi Valley in Tibet where takins are currently being reintroduced.
Last but certainly not least, Simon Girling our Head Veterinarian has just returned from the European College of Zoological Medicine annual meeting in Wiesbaden in Germany. Simon was invited to present original RZSS research into malignant catarrhal fever in exotic hoofstock. This week he will also lecture to post graduate veterinary students on reptile medicine and surgery, and also wildlife medicine and surgery.