Chief Executive’s Blog

August 2, 2015 § Leave a comment


I am pleased to announce that we have recently received a pair of endangered snow leopards at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, who went on show last week.

The male, Chan, is from Krefeld Zoo in Germany, whilst the female, Animesh, arrived from Marwell Zoo in England. We hope that the pair will have cubs to help increase the worldwide population of these rare cats. They are currently settling into their new home, which is built around a rocky cliff face on a hill in the centre of the Park. As snow leopards prefer to inhabit high mountainous terrain in the wild, their new enclosure is ideally suited to them. The female is still keeping a rather low profile as she gets used to her new environment, but will hopefully soon start wandering out of her pen more regularly.

Snow leopards by Alex Riddell (Male, Chan; Female, Animesh; (L-R))

Snow leopards by Alex Riddell (Male, Chan; Female, Animesh; (L-R))

In light of the arrival of the two snow leopards, RZSS has also recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Snow Leopard Trust and Norden’s Ark in Sweden, which will see a three year joint partnership with the three organisations. The partnership will focus on Pallas’s cat and snow leopard field research in order to aid future conservation efforts of the species, as well as to act as an educational tool.

In other news from RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, the Park has also welcomed the birth of three Scottish wildcat kittens. Born at the end of April, the kittens have recently started to wander out of their den. The birth of the kittens is great news in terms of conservation, as this critically endangered native species is facing the very real threat of extinction. Our organisation, along with more than 20 other organisations, is involved in the Scottish Wildcat Action, which is a partnership project –supported by the Scottish Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund – which represents the best chance the wildcat has of surviving in the wild. The project consists of a Priority Areas Team which is currently working to reduce the threats wildcats face in the wild, whilst RZSS has undertaken a new conservation breeding programme to help build up the population of this species.

15_07_22_ScottishWildcat_kittensAnd in further good news related to big cats, we have received a donation of over £3,000 from Nashville Zoo, in Tennessee, to support our field work support projects for Pallas’s cats. RZSS holds and coordinates the European breeding programme (EEP), as well as the international studbook (ISB) for the Pallas’s cat. Little is known of this Near Threatened species, which is why we have undertaken in-situ field work support in Iran, Nepal, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. The project will increase our understanding of this species, thereby allowing better targeted conservation efforts to save this species from extinction.

Socorro dove chick

Socorro dove chick

Meanwhile, at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, an incredibly rare Socorro dove has hatched. This species has been extinct in the wild since the early 1970’s and it is believed that there are less than 100 pure bred Socorro doves left in the world. RZSS has successfully been breeding this rare bird since 2005 and, along with Paignton Zoo, has sent over 12 doves to Albuquerque Zoo in Mexico to form a satellite breeding group in the hope that the offspring of these birds will be reintroduced to their native habitat on the island of Socorro, Mexico, in the near future. The last Socorro dove to hatch at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo was in 2010, so I am glad to hear of the recent hatchling and I hope that it will be able to return to its native habitat in Mexico.

“Nature is an infinite sphere of which the centre is everywhere and the circumference nowhere.”

Blaise Pascal

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