Chief Executive’s Blog

May 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

Last week Romain Pizzi, one of the RZSS Veterinary Surgeons, attended the annual Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland conference, the main human surgeon’s conference in the UK. Our two veterinarians perform endoscopic surgery on our animals and attending this human focused conference allows them to pick up the latest developments in endoscopic techniques and then transfer them to animals.

6. Gabriel, Russel and ArnaudArnaud Desbiez, the RZSS Regional Co-ordinator for Latin America based in Brazil, has just returned from two amazing weeks out in the field and tells me there have been some exciting project developments. There have been two giant armadillo trappings (one re-capture and one of a new individual) and three southern naked tail armadillo trappings (one recapture and two new animals). Excellent news when so little is known about these elusive species! The team has also just purchased some new external GPS transmitters that have been specially made for the project’s needs and the potential data they could generate is thrilling. The GPS transmitter’s batteries last 100 days and are placed at the edge of the amour, however armadillos do have a habit of walking through forested areas and the transmitters can become dislodged. We have to wait and see what happens and what is discovered, so I hope to have more news in two or three months about results of the GPS tags.

Dr Helen Senn, Research Scientist for RZSS, has just been in Agadir, Morocco at the 13th Annual Sahelo-Saharan Interest Group (SSIG) meeting. It was attended by people who are involved in conservation in arid land species and ecosystems. Helen was presenting her genetic research on scimitar–horned oryx, Arabian oryx, addax and dama gazelle, including results from surveying a number of populations in captivity as well as some of the last remaining individuals of addax and dama gazelle in the wild. The data was generated with the intention of gathering genetic information necessary for current management and future reintroduction efforts.

Dr Rob Ogden, Head of Conservation Science for RZSS, visited King Khalid Wildlife Research Centre (KKWRC) outside Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. The purpose of the trip was to help the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to evaluate the conservation genetics research facility at the centre. KKWRC is co-managed by ZSL and the Saudi Wildlife Authority and maintains populations of many endangered Arabian species.

I mentioned at the end of last month that we have a new bird box cam on Edinburgh Zoo’s website which is part of a larger programme of 40 nest boxes placed around the site. The blue tits in the nest box have just had three eggs. Blue tits actually lay once a day and only start incubating when they have a full clutch, which can be up to 16 eggs, but more likely seven to nine. Last year our first chicks hatched on 5th May, but due to the slow start to spring we think we are around two weeks behind this year


Provided by John Downer Productions

At Edinburgh Zoo this Sunday 12th May we will have some very special visitors.

Have you ever wondered what the penguin parade looks like from a penguin’s perspective? Well John Downer Productions, the team that created the renowned BBC program Spy in the Huddle, is coming to film our penguins in Penguins Rock – so we might just be able to find out. Full-sized rockhopper cams and egg cams will be deployed into Penguins Rock and the live footage will be streamed into the onsite penguin hut, allowing visitors to get a penguin-eye-view of the Zoo. This event is free with zoo admission. Please visit to get full timings for events across the day.

Onto other events, we have a Hoofstock Walkabout on Thursday 16th May from 7.30pm to 9pm. Our hoofstock keepers will take you on a guided evening tour of the various hoofstock animals around the park. You will be introduced to many of the animals in their care as well as finding out about the latest goings on within the section. Tickets cost £5 for members and £7 for non-members; to book please call 0131 314 0379.

Finally, there have been more animal births at both of our Parks. Only this morning three rock hyrax young were born and another female is also due to give birth shortly at Edinburgh Zoo – so in a few weeks you should be able to spot them out and about on the rocks. Our gentoo penguins at the Zoo have also laid 42 eggs – you can keep up-to-date by visiting our new egg and chick counter on the Penguin Cam

An elk calf was also born last night at the Highland Wildlife Park, our female capercaillie has laid four eggs and the snowy owl and the great grey owl as both sitting tight on their nests – so watch this space! The wolverine now have full access to their new enclosure and are using every bit of it, including climbing the trees.

Best wishes,



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