Chief Executives Blog

June 14, 2013 § Leave a comment


Amur Tiger CubsThere’s a lot of animal news from both of our visitor attractions this week, including births and new additions.

The Highland Wildlife Park has been particularly busy as many of their births tend to be seasonal. I told you about our exciting news last week when two Amur tiger cubs were born to new mother Dominika, but this week I have a host of new births to tell you about and it’s almost difficult to know where to begin! Elara the European grey wolf gave birth recently, we think to two cubs, and our red panda Kitty gave birth to one kit overnight at the end of last week. We also definitely have one northern lynx cub and our Turkmenian markhor has had triplets. Seven red deer calves have made it into the world and a male Bukhara deer, a female white lipped deer and a European bison calf have all been born. Finally, the great grey owl and snowy owl have both had chicks and just this very morning a pair of Himalayan tahr twins were the very newest arrivals. As many of you will know, last year at the Park we had a record year for births in our 40th anniversary year, so we’re hopefully we may have equally high numbers, if not more, this year.

At Edinburgh Zoo the gibbon baby is doing well and the red bellied lemur baby born to Gizmo is getting bigger and starting to come off its mother. Just yesterday a young male squirrel monkey called Hugo arrived from the Yorkshire Wildlife Park and three of our young male squirrel monkeys from the east group at LivingLinks moved down to them. When male squirrel monkeys become adolescents they have to be moved to avoid confrontation with the alpha male and to reduce the risk of them breeding with others too closely genetically linked. It is hoped Hugo will one day become the alpha male of the west group of squirrel monkeys; bringing in a new male will increase the genetic diversity of this group who are pure Saimiri sciureus sciureus (common squirrel monkeys) and part of a Stud Book coordinated by one of our Senior Keepers, Alison Dowling. It was important that Hugo arrived when he was still under three years old so that he can be successfully introduced into the group and rise through the social hierarchy over time.

A number of our key people within RZSS will be attending the BIAZA Annual Conference from the 13th to 16th June at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth. It is a great opportunity within the community to share ideas, new thinking and developments across the field. BIAZA members have a major focus on conservation, education and research with an overall aim of making people more aware of the natural world and thus encourage them to care for and conserve it. This year’s conference examines the challenge of the necessity of zoos becoming more sustainable.

Onto other key people within RZSS, Romain one of our veterinary surgeons was in England last week performing keyhole surgery on a female variegated spider monkey, which is on the IUCN’s listed 25 most endangered primates. He also lectured to private practice vets on domestic animal minimally invasive surgery and operated on a wild osprey in the north of Scotland that had been caught in a fishing line.

Edinburgh Zoo Rose Garden - David Austen RosesAt Edinburgh Zoo work on our centenary Rose Garden continues. Simon Jones and his gardens team have finished breaking down the bedrock on the lower lawn outside the Jungle Food Court. Bedding work is also taking place across the Zoo, making it even more picturesque with hanging baskets, planters and troughs.

Our Discovery & Learning team had a bird ringer visit Edinburgh Zoo this week to ring some of the chicks from our onsite blue tit boxes; they travelled from box to box to carry the process out. We ring birds to aim to understand what is happening to birds in the places they live and how this affects population increases and decreases. This knowledge is vital for conservation. It also gives information on the movement of the individual birds and how long they live for.

Lastly, it’s BioBlitz at Edinburgh Zoo this Friday (14th June) and Saturday (15th June) and you’re all invited to join the race with us to see as much native wildlife as possible during 24 hours! Pond-dipping, mini-beast hunting and plant identification are just some of the activities taking place as part of a national event to discover the natural world all around us. About 25 zoos and aquariums across the UK and Ireland will be taking part in this year’s Bioblitz; working against the clock to spot and record as many kinds of plants, animal and fungi as possible within a marked area over a 24-hour period.

We’ve two events taking place: a Family Day on both days and an evening event called Badgers with Bats on the Friday night. Please visit http://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/whatson/events_articles/events_248.html

Best wishes,

Chris West

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