Chief Executive’s Blog

October 4, 2013 § Leave a comment


Partula6I have some very exciting news regarding a special conservation project that RZSS has been involved in. Three species of tree-snails, known as Partula snails, that are among the most endangered species in the world are due to be reintroduced to their former Polynesian home following the success of an international zoo conservation project. As part of the reintroduction, RZSS will release 90 of the Partula affinis variety, a species that was thought to be extinct for many years until last year 12 individuals were found still surviving on one single tree.

This is an historical landmark, not only for Polynesian tree snails, but for wildlife conservation as a whole and is a result of a consortium of committed zoos working together as part of an international breeding programme. The Partula Global Species Management Programme has been vital in securing a future for Partula snails and returning them to their native Tahiti is an exciting first step in the reintroduction phase for all the species in the breeding programme.

Partula8Partula snails originate from the steep volcanic forested islands of French Polynesia and provide valuable insights into the mechanisms of evolution. Their population was decimated after the predatory ‘rosy wolf snail’ was introduced from Florida in the 1970s to rid the islands of a previously-introduced alien species – the giant African land snail – but instead the rapacious predator devoured the tiny native snails.

Ross Poulter, a Presentations Keeper at Edinburgh Zoo, will be heading to Tahiti for this project and during his time there will also search for a lost population Partula clara in the Fautaua Valley on Tahiti. He will also locate and perform health checks on known populations of other rare Partula varieties.

I am very proud that RZSS has played such a key role in this reintroduction project. This type of conservation and eventual reintroduction back into the wild when conditions are again sustainable embodies exactly what RZSS is about.

In some spooktacular event news, the Highland Wildlife Park will be holding an evening Halloween event on 31st October. Running from 5:30pm until 7:30pm, you will get to enjoy a guided twilight walk, which is a perfect opportunity to see how some of our animals behave once the sun sets. There will also be spooky tales told by our very own witches and ghouls! Prizes can be won for best home-made lantern and best costume; there will also be a Halloween-themed BBQ and raffle draw. Tickets are £5 for adults and £2 – for more information go visit the Highland Wildlife Park website.

The EAZA conference last week hosted by Edinburgh Zoo was a great success – it had the highest attendance rate ever with 760 delegates present, who were all very impressed with the Zoo and Edinburgh city. Thank you to Darren and everyone else for all their hard work.

Finally, I would like to congratulate the RZSS Communications team on a number of recent awards. Last week, RZSS won Best In-House Event at the 2013 Scottish Event Awards for Edinburgh Zoo Nights as well as Best In-House PR Team at the 2013 Fresh PR Awards. RZSS has also been shortlisted for Best Marketing Campaign at the 2013 Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards for the Highland Wildlife Park, with the winner to be announced this evening. Well done to such a fantastic effort!

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.



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