Chief Executive’s Blog

May 9, 2014 § 1 Comment


Arktos by Alex Riddell

Arktos by Alex Riddell

Fans of Highland Wildlife Park’s polar bears, Walker and Arktos, can now watch the pair live via Polar Bear Cam. Due to the Park’s remote setting in the heart of Cairngorms National Park, the camera is powered by a solar panel and a mini wind turbine, and uses satellite broadband internet – the same technology that’s used by the military in isolated areas. The innovative use of this technology could actually lead to advances in wildlife research in some of the world’s most inaccessible and harshest areas, including Antarctica, as it can be run remotely using natural power sources and satellite internet. Currently, the camera focusses on the enclosure’s large pond, which means watchers will now be able to see Walker and Arktos splash and play. To begin with Polar Bear Cam will stream live from 9:30am to 2:30pm, with pre-recorded footage then replayed outside of live streaming hours. It can be watched via


Mishmi takin calves Arya (L), Khaleesi (R) by Alex Riddell

Still up at Highland Wildlife Park, keepers this week performed their first health check-up on the two Mishmi takin calves born last month to Cava and Rosie. The girls are in excellent health and integrating well within the herd. Cava and Rosie are both seasoned mothers and take very good care of their offspring, which the keepers have christened Khaleesi and Arya – it appears we have Game of Thrones fans in the animal department! Highland Wildlife Park has been home to Mishmi takin for six years, with the first calves born in 2008, and also manages the European breeding programme for the species. Currently there are seven members of the herd, including the two latest arrivals. Mating usually occurs around July and gestation lasts eight months, with females giving birth to a single young every one to two years.

In an update from our veterinary department, this week, Simon Girling, Head of Veterinary Services for RZSS, lectured for a day on diagnostic imaging of exotic pet, zoo and wildlife to delegates enrolled in the European School of Veterinary Practitioner Studies. He also lectured for a day on medicine and surgery of Squamata (scaled reptiles) to final year undergraduates at the Royal Veterinary College. Many RZSS staff members regularly speak at global conferences, as well as university lectures, which is an important exercise in sharing expertise and expanding our understanding of conservation, research and science.

Down at Edinburgh Zoo, we recently received a visit from Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Training, Youth and Women’s Employment, who met with our new ZEST Certificate of Work Readiness students. The new ZEST work experience programme offers eight placements across both sites to young people aged 17 – 20 who are not in education, employment or training. It runs for a total of 10 weeks in a variety of departments including animals, discovery and learning, visitor services and works, and upon completion will provide the students with a Certificate of Work Readiness qualification to go towards future employment.

zn_bannerFinally, everything is coming together nicely for the first of 2014’s Edinburgh Zoo Nights on Friday 23 May, which is only two weeks away! The evening event is for adults only and is the perfect opportunity to explore the Zoo out of hours while enjoying Friday night drinks with friends or colleagues. We will have a whole new host of performers including fire throwers, comedians, musicians, plus many others, as well as street food, face painting and a silent disco. There are a limited number of tickets available for the night and more information can be found here.

In its broadest ecological context, economic development is the development of more intensive ways of exploiting the natural environment.
~Richard Wilkinson


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