Chief Executive’s Blog

January 17, 2014 § Leave a comment


A belated Happy New Year to all!

PPL_2January is already shaping up to be a big month for RZSS. On Thursday, we accepted £100,000 in funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, which marks the start of a long term relationship.

As a conservation charity we receive no government funding, instead relying on donations and visitors to our two zoological parks. This much-appreciated funding will help RZSS to maintain both Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park and help our crucial conservation projects at home and abroad. The role of a 21st century zoo is vital now more than ever in terms of conservation, education and research and these funds will go a long way towards helping RZSS make a difference.

Tian Tian at Edinburgh Zoo

Tian Tian at Edinburgh Zoo

I also have the privilege of announcing that Tian Tian, our female giant panda, has won Gold in the Favourite Panda Outside of China category of the Giant Panda Zoo Awards! Voted for by the public, this is an immense acknowledgement and I would like to congratulate all who work with our giant pandas. This is Edinburgh Zoo’s fourth award in the Giant Panda Zoo Awards, after winning Silver for Panda Campaign of the Year, Silver for Yang Guang for Favourite Panda Outside of China, and Gold for Iain Valentine for Human Panda Personality in 2012. Well done!

Finally, next Saturday marks 100 years since the arrival of penguins at Edinburgh Zoo – the first ever to be seen in Europe. On 25th January 1914, six months after its grand opening, the Zoo received a donation of six penguins from Salvesen Co. The four king penguins, one gentoo and one macaroni had made the momentous journey from South Georgia all the way to Leith Docks aboard the Salvesen ship ‘Coronda’. Historically, penguins have always been an important species for Edinburgh Zoo and RZSS. We were the first zoo in the Northern Hemisphere to successfully breed king penguins, and the first in the world to breed macaroni and gentoo penguins. Our knowledge and expertise also led to Edinburgh Zoo establishing the European breeding studbook for king and gentoo penguins in 1998 – both of which we still hold.

Sir Nils Olav the King Penguin at Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo’s Sir Nils Olav

Penguins remain hugely popular with our visitors. The penguin parade, which began in 1951, still runs daily and is world famous. Sir Nils Olav, the king penguin, is also world-renowned as the highest ranking penguin. The mascot for the Norwegian Guard, he has risen through the ranks from Lance Corporal all the way to Colonel-in-Chief. In 2008, he received a knighthood which was approved by the King of Norway and the Norwegian Guard visits him regularly. Even BBC’s Spy in the Huddle spy cams paid our penguins a visit last year!

The 100th anniversary of penguins at Edinburgh Zoo ties in with Penguin Awareness Week, which runs from Monday 20th January until Sunday 26th January. As part of the celebrations, an extra penguin talk will be occurring each day at 11am, along with the regular talk and feed after the penguin parade at 2:15pm. Exclusive footage from when BBC’s Spy in the Huddle spy cams visited Edinburgh Zoo’s penguins will also be screened in the Penguins Rock Habitat Hut. Please come along and wish our penguins a very happy anniversary!

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

– John Muir


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