Chief Executive’s Blog

November 14, 2014 § Leave a comment


First of all I would like to give you a little update from Arnaud Desbiez, RZSS Latin America Coordinator who is stationed in the Brazilian Pantanal. I last updated you in my blog of his work on the Giant Armadillo Project in August and since then the Giant Armadillo Project team has run two field expeditions to monitor all the animals which we are following. One of the main tasks of the October expedition was to fit a GPS tag on 16 month old giant armadillo Alex who we have been following through camera traps since his birth and was the first ever photographed baby giant armadillo in the wild. On the final night of the expedition, the team successfully fitted a GPS tag on Alex which will enable us to continue to learn more about him as he becomes more independent from his mother. This addition means we are now monitoring a total of seven giant armadillos through a combination of cameras and telemetry – a record for the project!

Giant Armadillo Baby Alex 2013 by Pantanal Giant Armadillo Project

Giant Armadillo and baby Alex by Pantanal Giant Armadillo Project

RZSS veterinary surgeon, Romain Pizzi, was also in Brazil this week. Romain is in Rio Grande do Sul, one of the Southern states, where he is teaching wildlife surgery to Brazilian veterinarians. I am sure it will prove to be a valuable teaching experience for all and will help build and enhance the capacity of the veterinarians.

Gentoo penguins

Gentoo penguins

Back in Scotland, I’m sure you have all seen the recent Christmas advert for John Lewis. A realistic CGI penguin plays the starring role and we were honoured that the penguins at Edinburgh Zoo helped inspire the advert; the advert’s production team spent a day in May observing the behaviours of our penguins as they waddled and porpoised through their state of the art enclosure. At Penguins Rock this week, keepers have heard visitors discuss the movements they can see within of our colony and relate these to some of the behaviours of Monty the penguin. It is wonderful for us to watch as members of the public get excited about observing natural behaviours of animals.

Arctic Fox with winter coat by Alex Riddell

Arctic Fox with winter coat by Alex Riddell

At Highland Wildlife Park, Arctic foxes Elf and Kilian have donned their winter coats as their fur has turned white and become denser. This is a natural annual transformation which not only helps protect them from the cold of winter, but also camouflages them in their native Arctic landscape.

We are currently hosting three students from the University of Edinburgh who are studying for an MSc in Science Communication and Public Engagement as part of an eight week placement for their course. The students are based at Edinburgh Zoo and have been concentrating on gaining visitor feedback on some of the interpretation throughout the site. I’m looking forward to hearing their findings which I trust will prove insightful and refreshing. They have also had the opportunity to meet with staff across numerous departments which has enabled them to get a broad overview of RZSS and all the jobs involved.

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

~Nelson Mandela


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