Chief Executive’s Blog

May 26, 2015 § Leave a comment


Our Giant Armadillo Conservation Project team in the Pantanal has recently managed to find Alex, the young giant armadillo which they have been tracking for nearly two years. Last week, veterinarian Camila Luba, who specialises in reproduction, caught up with Alex to examine him and take samples to determine whether he has reached sexual maturity.

This is vital information and the samples taken from the young armadillo have determined that he is still an immature male which, at the age of nearly two years, is quite surprising. Whilst there has been little research done on the Xenartha species (group of placental mammals found only in the Americas, such as anteater, tree sloths and armadillos), it has been discovered that young giant anteaters are already sexually mature by the age of two. This data continues to confirm the long life cycle of giant armadillos and we are now discovering how long it takes for individuals to even reach sexual maturity.

Dr Arnaud Desbiez, RZSS Latin America Coordinator and lead on the Giant Armadillo Conservation Project, will be in Buenos Aires this week to help facilitate at the ALPZA-CBSG Strategic Planning Workshop for Integrated Conservation, taking place between 29 and 31 May. ALPZA is the Latin American Zoo Association and CBSG is the IUCN Species Survival Commission Conservation Breeding Specialist Group. The main objective of the workshop is to develop a strategy that points out how ALPZA members and other Latin American zoos and aquariums should act towards biodiversity conservation. Over 30 participants from zoos throughout South America will come together, alongside representatives from the Association of Zoo and Aquariums (AZA), European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), and some International NGOs.

Romain Pizzi, Veterinary Surgeon

Romain Pizzi, Veterinary Surgeon

Romain Pizzi, Veterinary Surgeon at RZSS, presented a talk about wildlife surgery at the European Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians (EAZWV) conference in Barcelona, last week. The conference was attended by over 350 zoo and wildlife vets from Europe and further afield. This week, meanwhile, Romain will present to an assembly of human surgeons, medical engineers and health care providers at the International Research Centre for Digestive Cancer (IRCAD) and European Institute for Tele-Surgery (EITS) at the University of Strasbourg. His talk will explore innovations in delivering human surgical interventions in third world countries.

(L-R) Chris West CEO of RZSS, Colin Bean SNH, Roisin Campbell - Palmer, Karen Taylor SNH, Dr Aileen McLeod MSP, Simon Jones SWT, Phillipa McKee FCS

(L-R) Chris West CEO of RZSS, Colin Bean SNH, Roisin Campbell – Palmer,
Karen Taylor SNH, Dr Aileen McLeod MSP, Simon Jones SWT, Phillipa McKee FCS

I joined RZSS Conservations Projects Manager Roisin Campbell-Palmer in Knapdale last week to meet with Aileen McLeod MSP, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, to discuss beaver reintroduction to Scotland and our work at the Scottish Beaver Trial to date. This is ahead of the decision by Scottish Government later this year on the future of beaver reintroduction to Scotland.

Photo by Rob McDougall

Photo by Rob McDougall

And finally, HRH The Princess Royal paid an official visit to RZSS Edinburgh Zoo on Friday 22 May. HRH has been the Society’s Royal Patron since 2009 and last visited the Zoo in September 2013 to celebrate our centenary year. The Princess Royal’s visit coincided with two very important ten year conservation anniversaries for RZSS, as the Society has been working with chimpanzees in Uganda and giant armadillos in the Brazilian Pantanal since 2005. To celebrate, HRH visited the Zoo’s innovative and interactive chimpanzee enclosure, the Budongo Trail, to discuss the Budongo Conservation Field Station in Uganda and to see Velu, the first baby chimpanzee to be born in Scotland in 15 years, who has his first birthday next month.

Photo by Rob McDougall

Photo by Rob McDougall

“It is that range of biodiversity that we must care for – the whole thing – rather than just one or two stars.” – David Attenborough


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