A bit of everything!

February 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

What do honey badgers, purple-faced langurs and our Garden’s team have in common? Nothing! Except they all feature in this week’s blog! Read on to find out more…

We are pleased to announce that a purple-faced langur monkey was born on the 16th December! The new born is a male, but he has yet to be named. He is the second baby to be born in the last two years to mum, ‘Kandy’.

This is excellent news as the IUCN red list have classified this species as endangered. This is largely due to the 50% population decline that has taken place over the last 30 years. All of the usual suspects are to blame for this dramatic decline; human encroachment, habitat loss and hunting are among the worst offenders.

There are also less than thirty purple-faced langur monkeys in captivity. Those kept at Edinburgh Zoo are of the sub-species Trachypithecus vetulus vetulus and they represent the only individuals of this sub-species kept within captivity, making them very special in deed! We are pleased that our small captive group is breeding, thereby building up their captive numbers. In the future, they could prove to be a valuable safe-guard against the extinction of this species. Why not pay these rare and special primates a visit?

Baby langur tries a bit of solid food

If you visit the zoo in the near future, you are likely to notice some large-scale gardens works going on outside the Oasis restaurant. This area of the zoo has been a rose garden for almost 100 years and was part of the original zoo landscape design back in the 1910s. The original garden contained over 20 rose beds and over the years has been slowly modified into the 5 beds.

However, the rose beds are now old. The soil has not been changed in many years and it is fair to say that it is now exhausted of nutrients, despite their annual manure application. As a result, the roses were not performing,

2013 is the Edinburgh Zoo centenary year and the Garden’s team are hoping to re-instate these rose gardens to their original 1913 design (and glory!) in time for these celebrations. However, in order to do this they will need a complete over-haul of the area, which is why they have begun work now!

In the meantime, the team also plan to form a new, temporary flower bed in this area that will show-case edible plants (some of which may be eaten by the animals!). These will be planted for spring 2011.

The Garden’s team care for over 4,000 different species, including some which are endangered. If you would like to find out more about the work our Garden’s team do, including a look at some of the interesting historic species they keep, and the plant conservation projects they support, then come along to the ‘Centenary Garden’s’ Talk this Thursday evening, 7.30 – 9.00pm. Cost: Non-members £6/ Members £4. Advance booking essential: phone 0131 314 0350 or visit www.rzss.org.uk .

Our formidable Gardens team!

Finally, you may recall back in May 2009 that we announced that Tyson the honey badger would be leaving Edinburgh Zoo. Well, we weren’t lying, it just took him 9 months to get round to it! Tyson left the zoo last weekend for Howletts zoo in Kent. He will be introduced to their old resident female, in the hopes of getting him used to female company. We hope that this new and novel interaction will provide Tyson with some much needed enrichment! Tyson was always known for his energetic and sometimes destructive behaviours, and was often to be seen running non-stop around his enclosure at Edinburgh zoo! Perhaps a little female company will be just what he needs. The hope for the future is that Tyson can be introduced to another young, female, and that the two will ultimately breed, contributing to the honey badger captive population.

Tyson was a real character and will be very much missed!

May Bank Holidays Arrive

May 20, 2009 § 8 Comments


With Edinburgh’s ‘Victoria Day holiday this week, and the English ‘Wit week’ holidays starting next week, there will be plenty of reasons to come and spend some quality time with the animals at Edinburgh Zoo (providing the rain stops for long enough!) Here’s what the animals have been up to this week. 

Thirty-seven gentoo penguins have now hatched from the one hundred and twelve eggs laid, and they have certainly been keeping their keepers busy! Here’s a run-down of just what the keeper’s have to do to care for the eggs and chicks at this time of year!

When the penguins lay each egg, keepers mark it (important because there are often two eggs on each nest) and all details are recorded on a clutch sheet and then transferred to a database. This is used to help keepers in carrying out daily nest checks.

 The daily nest check

The daily nest check

When the chicks first hatch, keepers dust their navel area with an antibiotic powder to prevent any infection and then weigh them. If it is a first chick and another is due on the nest, the chick is marked with a special dye as a method of telling the siblings apart. Once the second chick has hatched, and both siblings have grown a little, they are both banded using flexible plastic wire bands which can be adjusted or changed on a daily basis, as the chicks grow. This helps the keepers to identify penguin chicks whilst they are still young.

 A new hatchling is treated with antibiotic powder

A new hatchling is treated with antibiotic powder

Baby’s first weighing! 

Baby’s first weighing!

Keepers also collect the shells of all the eggs that have hatched. Previously a study was done on the composition of the shell in relation to diet, and researchers only need a tiny piece of shell from each egg to do this. We therefore hope that future studies can be carried out if we keep all the eggshells.

 Shell collection

Shell collection

Chicks are weighed every day for the first 10 days after hatching so keepers can monitor how well they are being fed by their parents. After 10 days they are weighed every other day unless there is any cause for the keepers to be concerned. When chicks reach a weight of about 300g keepers will start to feed them very small fish called ‘whitebait’ to get them used to being hand fed and to help out their parents as well! Everything is recorded from start to finish as it’s important for keepers to keep a full detailed progress report of every penguin that hatches.

We are pleased to announce the arrival of three male European Grey Wolves at Edinburgh Zoo, from their previous home at the Highland Wildlife Park. ‘Puika’, ‘Dalls’ and ‘Ilknis’ can be viewed out in their enclosure, opposite the African Plains, where they are now getting settled in. It has been a full 16 years since wolves were last resident at Edinburgh Zoo, and we are sure many visitors will be happy to see them return. One male, ‘Hans’ from the Highland Wildlife Park pack has remained at the Highland Wildlife Park to be introduced to a female, ‘Elara’ in the hopes that we can begin breeding this species. This pair of wolves will be resident in a new enclosure, as work will soon begin to transform the old wolf enclosure into the new polar bear enclosure.

Wolves were once widespread throughout Europe, including the UK, but due to hunting, habitat loss and diseases passed onto them by domestic dogs, they are now confined to small pockets in Italy, Poland, France, Portugal, Russia, Scandinavia, Spain and throughout Eastern Europe. They became extinct in the UK during the 18th century.

 Three handsome bachelors arrive in town!

Three handsome bachelors arrive in town!

We are sad to have to tell you that two more of the Bush dog puppies died at the end of April. Unfortunately, despite the special care both keepers and vets had been giving to our bush dogs, the illness that the dogs have been suffering from got the better of yet two more of the puppies. As you can imagine, after caring for the puppies for so long, this was very sad news for the keepers and all staff alike. As one blog reader noted just last week, it is a sad fact of life that in captivity, as in the wild, some animals will make it, and others will not. The remaining bush dog puppy has been seen out frequently, and is growing larger each time. We are hopeful that he will continue to grow healthily and one day contribute to the breeding programme himself.

Finally, if you’re visiting the zoo during the next week or so, you may want to pay a visit to Tyson the honey badger. We are expecting to wave goodbye to Tyson towards the end of May as he leaves the zoo to join another collection. Many visitors will be familiar with Tyson as he is quite the character! Always on the go, since Tyson’s arrival at the zoo, he has caused his keepers constant headaches! From breaking his water dish (and in doing so, flooding his enclosure) to figuring out how to open his door at will (and letting himself in and out when he felt like it!), Tyson has been a non-stop trouble maker! Fondly named ‘Tyson the Dyson’, he certainly kept his keepers challenged as they came up with all sorts of enrichment to prevent him from destroying his enclosure! We will all be sad to say goodbye to the honey badger, and we hope that he will be happy in his new home, and can contribute to the rambunctious captive population of this species.

Farwell Tyson! 

Farwell Tyson!

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