Chief Executive’s Blog

July 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

This coming Monday, 22nd July, is Edinburgh Zoo’s 100th birthday and we have a lot of events in store for the day. It is an immense pleasure to be at the helm of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland during this important occasion and I hope you will come join me as we look towards the Zoo’s future and its role within global conservation efforts.

To celebrate every child to visit the Zoo on Monday will receive a free animal mask to wear and there will be 100 fluffy panda toys hidden throughout the park for visitors to find. A magnificent 3ft tall king penguin cake sculpture will be on display as a symbol of the importance penguins have had throughout the Zoo’s history. Also, Mr and Mrs Gillespie have time travelled to the future and will be joining in on our education talks throughout the day and special birthday messages from staff and noteworthy people including Chris Packham and Alexander McCall Smith will be available online. To help us celebrate, Edinburgh Library has added rare photographs and information about the Zoo’s history to their Capital Collections page  and Our Town Stories for all to enjoy.

On Tuesday a large fibreglass penguin travelled alone from Dudley to Edinburgh courtesy of Virgin trains to join us for our centenary. Dudley McDudley is one of the penguins that was created for Dudley Zoo’s 75th birthday last year and has been given to us as a gift for our 100th birthday. The gesture recognises the importance of inter-zoo cooperation throughout our history. You can read about Dudley McDudley’s trip here.

banner_koala_territoryStill at Edinburgh Zoo, I am happy to announce that the UK’s only koalas are now back on show in their newly refurbished enclosure Koala Territory. Koala Territory is a much more immersive experience, giving visitors the opportunity to learn about their natural habitat as well as the koalas themselves. The new design also means visitors can get closer than ever before to female Alinga and males Goonaroo and Yabbra. One question we are often asked is why the three koalas are kept separately; this is because in the wild male koalas are fiercely territorial. So while female koalas or a mother koala and her joey could live happily together, Alinga. Goonaroo and Yabbra prefer to have their own space.


Great Grey Owlet, Beaker by Alex Riddell

Up at the Highland Wildlife Park the spree in births is continuing. Keepers are particularly amused by the hatching of Beaker, the Park’s first ever great grey owl chick, who looks more like a character from the Muppets than a wise owl! Three snowy owlets can also be seen with their parents near the polar bear enclosure, the wolf pups are generally visible at any time of day and the lynx kittens are normally visible after 3:30pm. Our red panda kit is also doing very well, though is still off show to visitors for another few weeks, but I am happy to say that Marty the Amur tiger’s introduction to his two cubs Viktor and Murray went very well and the whole family can now be seen living and playing together outdoors.

I also want to congratulate both the Visitor Services and Keeper teams, as the Highland Wildlife Park has been awarded the Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence. The Certificate of Excellence is only awarded to businesses that rank in the top 10% worldwide for traveller feedback so well done team!

Finally in science and conservation news RZSS vet Romain Pizzi was the invited keynote speaker on endoscopic surgery for the 60th anniversary conference of the British Association of Paediatric Surgeons (BAPS) in Bournemouth, as the Karl Storz sponsored lecturer. His presentation was entitled “Surgery on the Wild side” and was well received by all attendees.

6. Gabriel, Russel and Arnaud

Gabriel, Russel and Arnaud

Also, I have received an update from Arnaud Desbiez who is part of our in-situ field team working on the Giant Armadillo Project. Two new giant armadillos were caught and tagged, however one lost its tag the day after its release, which was very disappointing for the team as giant armadillos are extremely hard to catch! Arnaud was invited to give a presentation at the ALPZA conference (EAZA of South America), which took place at the São Paulo Zoo. He gave a presentation on how species conservation projects are an important conservation instrument for zoos. He also travelled to the United States to be part of the ZACC conference (Zoos and Aquariums: Committing to Conservation) and will now be returning to the field until 3rd August.

The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it.”
David Attenborough


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