Chief Executive’s Blog

April 21, 2015 § Leave a comment

We’re into our second week of our six month long Dinosaurs Return! and it is proving to be very popular with children and adults alike. We have received some wonderful feedback from visitors about the exhibition and I am pleased people are enjoying it and learning from it.

Arnaud Desbiez

Arnaud Desbiez

Our RZSS Giant Armadillo team are currently running an expedition to explore forest fragments found in the Sao Paulo state bordering Mato Gasso do Sul. Although giant armadillos have been absent from Sao Paulo for over 30 years, the team are hoping to find evidence of this rare mammal in the area. The previous expedition of this nature may have failed but the team remain optimistic. They hope that the animals will have crossed a large river to return to Sao Paulo from Mato Grosso do Sul. I will keep you posted on any more developments and will let you if the team are successful in finding evidence of giant armadillos in the area.

In my previous blog I mentioned the RZSS giant armadillo conservation team were busy organising the first Giant Armadillo Epidemiology Symposium, which would be held at Sao Paulo Zoo. I am pleased to report back that the symposium was a great success and was attended by over 35 people. The workshop took place between 10 and 11 April and received funding from Disney Coins for Change. As a result of the symposium, new research activities and partnerships have been formed and new lines of research will be initiated.

Edinburgh Zoo scientists at work series

Helen Senn – WildGenes

In further good news regarding the Giant Armadillo Project, the Prins Bernhard Fund for Nature has just approved a grant to support the project’s activities. The Prins Bernhard Fund for Nature was one of the Giant Armadillo Project’s first donors in 2010 and 2011, and we are very grateful for their continued support.

Elsewhere, our WildGenes team are busy training two PhD students in SNP (Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism) genetic analysis techniques. The two students, who are from Gabon and Norway, are using the same techniques for two very different projects. Both of the students are conducting projects on wild animals that require genetic samples to be matched back to individuals or their parents. Stephanie (from Gabon) is using SNP genetic analysis techniques for her project on the illegal trade of elephant ivory in Gabon, whereas Priyank (from Norway) is focusing on understanding the mating behaviour and ecology of Eurasian beavers.


Photo by Keith McGillivray

And finally, if you’re out and about in Edinburgh city centre you may well catch sight of some of our animals moving through the city! We have recently launched a new fleet of Number 26 buses, in partnership with Lothian Buses, which are wrapped top to bottom with superb images of some of RZSS Edinburgh Zoo’s most charismatic animals. The first buses to be launched with the new designs feature our famous penguins as well as our blue arrow tree frog. The other animal buses will be released each week for the next month or so, so do keep an eye out for them. The deal with Lothian buses will continue for the next three years, so the RZSS Edinburgh Zoo wrapped buses will hopefully bring a bit of colour to Edinburgh on those cold, grey days.

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
Aldo Leopold


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