September 6, 2013 § Leave a comment
Although September usually heralds the end of summer with the new school year starting and the weather turning cooler, we have had a
flurry of new births at both sites in the past week. At Edinburgh Zoo our troupe of brown capuchins welcomed their third new arrival of the season; the infant was born to Sylvania and can be seen on the west side of our Living Links enclosure. And up at the Highland Wildlife Park, our youngest female Przewalski’s horse, Ieda, gave birth to a foal early Monday morning. This newcomer is the Park’s first Przewalski’s foal in five years and the father Hero’s first offspring and can be seen with the herd in the Park’s main drive-through enclosure.
Still up at the Highland Wildlife Park, the team there have been assisting the Alladale Estate rehome all four of their European elk as well as developing a national plan for the species that will help to establish further unrelated groups within the UK, including at least three new holders for the species. These movements are an important part of animal husbandry and species management as it promotes stronger genetic diversity and reduces the risk of inbreeding.
Visitors to the Park may also notice that the red panda area has been fully opened for visitor access. Unfortunately Kush, the red panda cub, is still preferring to spend his time in the nesting box and is only seen outside when carried by his mother Kitty. Keepers will be installing a camera trap in the enclosure to try and learn more about his movements.
Back down at Edinburgh Zoo, we held a members workshop on positive reinforcement training for animals during the weekend. It all went very well with the participants trying, firstly, to train one another to do certain tasks using targets, clickers and rewards and then we even had a guest animal (Diesel, one of our keepers’ dogs) who allowed the children in the workshop to try some hands on training.
On Wednesday we bade farewell to our magnificent Sand Zoo, with fifteen volunteers from Scottish Widows on hand to help our gardens team demolish the sand sculpture and disperse the 90 tonnes of sand, which will be reused as part of our on-site bamboo nursery. It was delightful to see so many visitors enjoy our centenary sculpture and beach in the city during the summer.
This week Romain Pizzi, one of the veterinary surgeons at Edinburgh Zoo has been at the International Penguin Conference in Bristol where he gave two presentations on the Society’s penguin work: the first on minimally invasive endoscopic surgery in penguins and the second on the effect of dietary change on mortality in a large captive gentoo penguin population over a 47 year period.
Finally, last Friday we hosted a Members and Adopters night at the Zoo, which was very well received despite it threatening to rain most of the night. The event was attended by 1,100 members, adopters and their guests. During the evening we held special keeper talks, meet the keeper opportunities and animal encounters that all proved to be very popular.
He who plants a tree plants a hope.
July 12, 2013 § Leave a comment
With the official centenary date of Edinburgh Zoo almost here, our celebratory Sand Zoo is almost complete. An amazing work of art, I’ve been watching the sand sculpture take shape each day. The level of detail Jamie and Andy from Sand in Your Eye have put into the animals’ fur, skin and general form is amazing. In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about, we’ve had a massive three by three metre sculpture made out of sand that features animals from Edinburgh Zoo created on our mansion house lawn. There is also a 12 by 12 metre beach in the city complete with deck chairs, parasols and buckets and spades nearby. It’s all been perfect timing with the stunning heat wave we’ve all been experiencing across the country. The Sand Zoo is open from now until probably the end of August – nature dependent! Come in and enjoy it whilst it lasts.
Still with Edinburgh Zoo’s centenary, BBC1 Scotland will air a documentary Animal Magic – 100 Years of Edinburgh Zoo on Sunday 14th at 7pm. Taking a look back at the Zoo’s history, the documentary is filled with famous faces, both human and animal, as well as spectacular historic footage. It covers how the Zoo has evolved over the past century since 1913 and what our future vision is, as conservation is of course more vital now than ever to protect and maintain the diverse world around us. If you’re unable to watch the documentary live on Sunday it will be available via BBC iPlayer http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0371hnt, but here’s also a sneak preview of a couple of clips http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0371hnt/clips
Still with Edinburgh Zoo, our Discovery & Learning team are currently running an event called RZSS Conservation in Action in the Budongo Trail lecture theatre, highlighting the conservation work of RZSS around the world. Drop in until Friday 19th July to learn about four in-situ conservation projects, both at home and abroad: The Scottish Beaver Trial, Highland Tiger project, Budongo Conservation Field Station in Uganda and the Pantanal Conservation and Research Initiative.
Throughout the summer holiday we will have two Nuffield Research Placement students doing studies at the Zoo. Nuffield Research Placements provide over 1,000 UK students each year with the opportunity to work alongside scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians. Placements are given to students in their first year of a post-16 science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) course. Nuffield particularly supports students who don’t have a family history of going to university or those who attend schools in less well-off areas.
One of our students is working on the Zoo’s long term analysis of how chimpanzees utilise the plants within their enclosure and the other is looking at which animals our visitor’s anthropomorphise (attribute human characteristics onto non-human things) more than others. She will look into what factors dictate the level that we anthropomorphise certain animal species, such as the evolutionary closeness of the animal. Their final reports are due at the end of August, so check back then to hear about some of their findings.
Travelling to the north, this week was the first week of Science Summer School up at the Highland Wildlife Park. A group of students studied three different species and learnt about conservation and science on site, giving presentations of their work at the end of the week. The Park has also been awarded the Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence – the Certificate of Excellence is awarded to businesses that rank in the top 10% worldwide for traveller feedback.
Finally, tickets have just gone on sale for a special one off Moon Festival event at Edinburgh Zoo to tie in with the Chinese Moon Festival. On Thursday 19th September guests can enjoy an evening panda viewing on the candlelit walkway and join in a night-time lantern walk to visit other species in the Zoo. We’ll also be serving Chinese tea and mooncakes, traditionally shared during the moon festival. The event will last an hour and a half and there are two timeslots to choose from when booking: 6.30pm to 8pm and 7pm to 8.30pm. Adult tickets are £20 and children are £15. Visit either www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/whatson/events_articles/event_224.html or phone Jo on 0131 314 0340.
“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”
― Gary Snyder