Chief Executive’s Blog

March 21, 2014 § Leave a comment


In an update from the animal section at Edinburgh Zoo, our Darwin’s rhea have now started laying eggs. Rhea are notoriously difficult to successfully breed, so this is excellent progress. We have also welcomed two three-banded armadillos to the collection, which arrived at the Zoo last Friday and are settling in well off show. And finally, the Zoo’s herd of kiang and vicuna have been moved to the fields at the very top of the site in order to allow the lower fields time to regenerate over summer – successful land management is an important yet often overlooked part of animal husbandry for hoofstock species.

Pallas's Cat by Alex Riddell

Pallas’s Cat by Alex Riddell

Up at Highland Wildlife Park, Beebop the male Pallas’s cat is now back on show, while female Alula remains in an off-show area as part of breeding management. Keepers at the Park are hopeful the pair have successfully mated and if so, Alula should give birth within the next several weeks. However, Pallas’s cats are another species that is very difficult to successfully breed so it is mostly a case of wait and see.

On Thursday, the Park bid farewell to European elk Froja and Idun, who departed for Knowsley. The mother and daughter have moved to another collection as part of a genetic management plan for the species; our resident bull elk Bob was joined late last year by a new female Cas and the pair are getting along very well.

Elk calf, Idun by Alex Riddell

Elk calf, Idun by Alex Riddell

From the Vets team, I am delighted to say Adam Naylor, our new veterinary resident, is fitting in well on site at Edinburgh Zoo. Adam is originally from Bristol and qualified from the Royal Veterinary College London in 2007. After initially working at a private exotic referral practice, he moved to the USA in 2011 to take up a position at the Wildlife Center of Virginia, working with a wide range of native species including rodents, snakes, and lizards, to opossums, eagles, and bears. On his return to the UK, he carried out a Masters in Wild Animal Health at London Zoo and collaborated with numerous zoos around the UK as part of his research thesis looking reproductive disease of tapir. In 2013 he worked with the veterinary department at Bristol Zoo and has now joined the veterinary department at RZSS to undertake a three year residency in Zoo Animal Management. This is the first residency position to be approved by the European College of Zoological Medicine in the UK and only the third in the world. This is both a fantastic achievement for RZSS as well as an incredibly exciting opportunity for Adam.

In news from the field, as part of the Giant Armadillo Project in the Brazilian Pantanal RZSS is funding, planning and helping to execute a strategic plan for the Brazilian Society of Zoos and Aquariums (SZB). Thirty representatives from zoos and aquariums from across Brazil will be meeting 24 – 26 March at São Paulo Zoo to produce a detailed five-year action plan for SZB. The action plan seeks to strengthen the institution and promote the participation of all Brazilian zoos and aquariums. The two main goals of the workshop are to identify and prioritise actions that will assist SZB in becoming internally organized, enabling the institution to work efficiently towards the improvement of the standards and the quality of Brazilian zoos and aquariums; and to integrate Brazilian zoos into the international zoo community for the development of cooperative breeding conservation programmes.

Currently Brazil has 116 zoological institutions, including 106 zoos and 10 aquariums, which together hold approximately 50,000 animals. SZB was created 35 years ago and its new mission is to aggregate zoos and aquariums in Brazil and to further develop, improve and strengthen them so that they can reach their full potential. To fulfil this mission, SZB wishes to provide technical support and facilitate cooperation, training and exchange of knowledge between Brazilian institutions and other zoological institutions around the world. The ultimate goal is to improve management, education and conservation efforts, enabling the institutions to achieve an efficient management, high ethical standards and the best animal welfare practices.

RZSS is proud to support this initiative and hopes to strengthen the SZB and welcome Brazilian Zoos in the global captive breeding community.

Best wishes,


The rate of rainforest depletion in the Amazon is 6,400km2 per year. However, forest loss in Indonesia, an area significantly smaller than the Amazon, is almost the same rate at 5,900km2. The Earth is fast losing its ecological diversity and large areas of unique habitats, the result of which will be catastrophic for all.
 (Statistics from David McCandless, Information is Beautiful 2012)


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