Chief Executive’s Blog

December 13, 2013 § Leave a comment


At Edinburgh Zoo it’s looking lively in Budongo Trail, our state of the art chimpanzee house, as a number of females are in season. One female in particular, Lianne, is getting a lot of attention from our males, which isn’t going down well with some of the other boys! Also, most of the research projects in Budongo are coming to an end this week and next, and there will be several exciting new projects beginning in the New Year; I can tell you more about them nearer the time.

Many keepers across the Highland Wildlife Park and Edinburgh Zoo are taking the seasonal opportunity to make Christmas themed enrichment for the animals they care for on a daily basis. The theming is purely for our visitors and our keepers’ benefit, however enrichment itself is a vital part of animal care as it encourages species-specific behaviour. As well as the enrichment animals get on a daily basis from their habitats and interactions with others from the same species, added one off enrichment also gives our animals mental and physical exercise, offers them new experiences and allows them to make choices – all key to happy, healthy animals. Enrichment normally comes in the form of food that is often hidden or involves some sort of foraging or problem solving to reach or from toys such as balls, hay, hammocks or climbing frames. It’s just a bonus that the animal’s enrichment enrich us as well as visitors and keepers alike get the enjoyment of seeing the amazing natural behaviours of our animals!

Hairy_Armadillo_4I’m also delighted to share that Edinburgh Zoo has launched its first Mini Keeper experience for children aged between five and seven years. The next generation of animal lovers, ‘mini keepers’ will get the chance to join the Zoo’s team of expert keepers during their morning duties, which include helping to make up morning feeds, thinking up with creative enrichment ideas for the animals and carrying out daily health checks. Each Mini Keeper experience will be a little bit different, but will give younger ones the opportunity to get up close to some of our animals – such as wallabies, armadillos, cuscus, lizards and parrots. We hope that this exciting, interactive experience will inspire a whole new generation to become avid wildlife lovers and conservationists.

Marty the Amur tiger at the Highland Wildlife Park has also just had his annual weigh in. Regular weigh-ins are an important part of the Park’s animal husbandry routines as it allows keepers to ensure any medication dosage is accurate. It also allows the keepers to track his weight and adjust his diet if necessary.

Marty_weigh-in_resized_jpHis keepers positioned heavy duty portable scales inside one of the mesh tunnels that lead from the tigers’ indoor dens to their 1.7 acre outdoor enclosure and Marty was encouraged onto the scales with meat treats. He weighs an impressive 187 kilograms (412 pounds) – 31 kilograms (68 pounds) heavier than when he was weighed in April last year. At only four years old, Marty still has a bit more growing to do, with some male Amur tigers known to reach 300 kilograms. The six-month-cubs Murray and Viktor weighed in at 45 kilograms (99 pounds) each, roughly the size of a Labrador.

Christmas wishes,


“Conservation is a state of harmony between man and land”

Aldo Leopold


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