Chief Executive’s Blog

November 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

Good morning,

From the 19th to 21st November, RZSS hosted a dama gazelle meeting at Edinburgh Zoo that brought together experts from around the world to coordinate conservation action for the species.


The dama gazelle, indigenous to the Sahel region of North Africa, is currently listed as critically endangered on the IUCN redlist with number decline due to habitat degradation and hunting. There are currently an estimated 300 left in the wild. As a result of the meeting an updated status report will be produced for this species; including recommendations on how best to increase numbers in the wild and how to integrate this goal with captive breeding efforts.

At the Highland Wildlife Park the new walkway through the entrance reserve is completed and will be officially opened by Eddie Orbell (the previous Park Director) and his wife on St Andrews Day. We will also be offering 2 for 1 admission to the Park. On the same day there’ll also be events happening in the Park – please visit for further information.

Still in the Highlands, new animal fencing on its southern side has also been completed. This has allowed the animal team up there to give the yak herd access into that portion of the reserve and have them back on exhibit.  The fencing on the northern side of the walkway is nearly finished, and then the yak, camels and will have use of the whole area via the two animal access points under the highest sections of the walkway.


Much further afield, the Pantanal Giant Armadillo team are delighted to have just returned from the field after capturing (and then released again) two adult male giant armadillos for monitoring purposes. Since June they had not captured a new individual, despite their almost constant presence in the field. Great news for the project, especially as the rainy season is just starting which makes field access difficult. They also welcomed a keeper from Minnesota Zoo, Mary Peterson, who worked with them for two weeks.

Finishing at Edinburgh Zoo, this week we welcomed a visit of 15 delegates from the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens. Amongst the delegates were people from different zoos in China, as well as from Chengdu and the giant panda centre. The group had been on a UK zoo tour, also taking in London, Bristol, Cotswolds and Dudley.

The group had many questions about the Zoo and our animals and their tour covered aspects from enclosure design and animal husbandry, to conservation and education.


They were delighted to see Tian Tian the giant panda during their visit, but the highlight for many of them was the behind the scenes opportunity to get close to Yabbra, one of our male koalas, during his weekly weighing session with keepers Lorna and Donald.

Our education team has continued their Beyond the Panda outreach programme, endorsed by the Scotland China Education Network. Now reaching beyond the mainland, one of our education team has just returned from the Shetland Islands where she visited five schools – Dunrossness, Sandwick, Cunningsburgh, Whiteness and Brae Primaries.

Beyond the Panda has now delivered 33 out of a total of 50 sessions booked by schools throughout Scotland and a number of schools are now working with Chinese teachers to learn more about China and Mandarin Chinese. That completes the sessions this year, but early next year our Discovery and Learning team will be off to Argyll and Bute in January and then Skye, Fort William and Fort Augustus in February.


Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you

Frank Lloyd Wright (1868-1959)”


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