Chief Executive’s Blog

February 28, 2014 § Leave a comment


As part of celebrations for International Polar Bear Day, which was on Thursday, Highland Wildlife Park’s resident bears Walker and Arktos were treated to two mini icebergs filled with frozen fish. The boys are very playful and loved pouncing and rolling on them in their pond! The enrichment also had a more serious purpose: to highlight to visitors the effects of climate change. Usually by this time of year there would be a decent covering of snow across the Park, however, so far we have been snow-free for almost the entire winter.

Photo by Jan Morse

Photo by Jan Morse

Unlike many other animals, polar bears in the wild thrive in winter and fast through summer. The loss of sea ice is affecting their ability to hunt, which means they are struggling to put down enough fat to survive the summer fast. Climate change is without a doubt the biggest factor contributing to a decline in the wild polar bear population.

In other exciting news from the Park, the Cairngorms Super Seven group (of which we are a member) conducted a recent survey found that 100 per cent of visitors vow to return and would recommend the Cairngorms area to other people. Furthermore, 85 per cent are already repeat visitors and 67 per cent come to the area at least once per year. These results are fantastic and reflect the feedback we regularly receive from visitors to Highland Wildlife Park. It is a testament regarding the high quality of service and unique experience offered by attractions within the Cairngorms, which itself is one of Scotland’s most stunning landscapes.

Photo by Katie Paton

Photo by Katie Paton

Back at Edinburgh Zoo, this week we announced our new partnership with Penicuik Home Improvements Ltd, who have become the first ever sponsor of our world famous Penguin Parade. As part of the partnership, Penicuik will be building a special interactive Eco Lodge at Edinburgh Zoo where visitors will be able to explore some of the energy saving devices available to modern homes, including solar panels, boilers and LED lighting. One of the key aims of RZSS is to raise awareness of the importance of sustainability and reducing the impact we as individuals have on the environment. Also, as a charity that receives no government funding, partnerships like this allow us even greater opportunity to carry out invaluable conservation, research and education projects around the world. We will also be working with Penicuik on several other developments over the next two years, including a major family day in September and several competitions including a very special ‘Exclusive Evening with the Penguins’ at the Zoo.

We also recently received a very special visitor to the Zoo. Legendary Newsround and Countryfile presenter John Craven visited the Zoo last week to see giant pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang. During his visit John met with Darren McGarry, Head of Living Collections for the Zoo as well as Iain Valentine, Director of Giant Pandas and panda keeper Michael Livingstone and discussed his ongoing work with giant pandas in China. John was part of the first ever Western film crew to visit giant pandas in the Sichuan Province in 1986 and has since been made a Panda Ambassador for the Panda Conservation Centre in Chengdu. It was a real delight having John visit the Zoo and we hope to work with him on giant panda conservation projects in the near future.

In conservation news, as many of you will be aware RZSS is one of the key partners in the Scottish Beaver Trial, alongside the Scottish Wildlife Trust. The Trial, which has been running in Knapdale since 2009, is reaching the end of the five-year monitoring phase. As such, we are running public surveys to gauge people’s views on beavers in Scotland. If you can spare a moment, please fill out our online survey here

Waste is a tax on the whole people.

 ~Albert W. Atwood


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