Page 1











A CUT ABOVE: Meet the unsung heroes of the Budongo Forest, Uganda



Kidding around Discover how our Presentations team is educating and inspiring the general public


Summer School Celebrating 20 years of the Zoo's unique environmental education programme

Wee Beasties A big new home for some of the Zoo's smallest animals


Out of sight The Highland Wildlife Park is supporting the conservation of the world's rarest cat


Garden guide Head Gardener Rab Harden guides you round the Zoo's spectacular gardens

Also… 4 The big picture 6 CEO's welcome 7 The agenda 26 Meet the team 35 Upcoming events

About this publication LifeLinks is the official publication for members of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS, registered charity no. SC004064), which owns and operates Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park. This magazine is made using paper from sustainable managed forests and is recyclable. LifeLinks is published three times a year. For more information about RZSS, including details of our patrons, board and staff, visit All content in this magazine is © RZSS. Opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent those of RZSS. For editorial enquiries, write to Edinburgh Zoo, 134 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh EH12 6TS or email Design: Front cover: Amur leopard. Credit: Siân Addison







Daddy day care

Easily spotted

Built for speed

Male Darwin’s rhea incubate the eggs and raise the offspring. This may seem unusual but male cassowaries, amongst others, are also the primary care givers.

Darwin’s rhea have greyishbrown plumage, with white spots on their back and wings, which help distinguish them from the greater rhea.

With long and powerful legs, the Darwin’s rhea is perfectly adapted for running at speeds of up to 37mph.


The Darwin’s rhea, or lesser rhea as it is sometimes known, belongs to a group of flightless birds known as ‘ratites’.

Growth spurt

Rheality check

Darwin’s delight

Young rhea reach 90 per cent of their adult size after just eight to nine months, but may not reach maturity until about two or three years of age.

The main threats to Darwin’s rhea are hunting for meat, skins and feathers; egg collection; and the taking of young birds for domestication.

Ironically, Darwin’s rhea can be difficult to rear! Keepers at the Zoo were delighted to hatch five chicks in 2015, and another three new arrivals this spring. LifeLinks








ummer is finally upon us and I am delighted to welcome you to our latest edition of LifeLinks. Over the past few months there has been plenty to keep us busy at both parks, from new exhibits such as Wee Beasties at the Zoo to a redeveloped polar bear play area at the Park, and a plethora of animal births. In this issue, you will meet some of our newest arrivals, including an extra-special rockhopper penguin, which hatched just in time for World Penguin Day in April, and a litter of endangered wildcat kittens at the Park. If you have not already done so, I would encourage you to pay us a visit to see them for yourself. Summer is also the time when we turn our attention to the intricacies of panda breeding season, and I was fortunate enough to travel to China last month to see for myself just what a difference RZSS and its partners are making out in the wild. As part of a packed schedule, we visited the Dujiangyan panda base in Chengdu, which is run by the China Conservation and Research Centre for Giant Pandas (CCRCGP). Like so many things in China, the scale of the operation was truly breathtaking. The breeding centre plays host to over 40 pandas and covers everything from research into disease control to rescue and quarantine, rehabilitation and education. It was a real privilege to see their operation up close and to meet so many like-minded people intent on securing the long-term future of the species. We made many friends on our trip, explored many different cultures, and my use of chopsticks definitely improved over the course of the week! Switching continents to Africa, this summer issue contains two fascinating articles inspired by our work in Uganda. The first tells the story of the transect cutters – the unsung heroes of the Budongo Forest – who spend their days creating conservation corridors through the forest for the benefit of researchers, field staff and (increasingly) the chimps themselves. The second celebrates the 20th anniversary of Edinburgh Zoo’s unique Summer School programme, which this year has Africa as its theme. It is a real tribute to the dedication and creativity of our Discovery and Learning team, and an ever-growing number of volunteers, that the programme has endured for so long, with 9,000 children and counting engaged since 1997. I for one cannot wait to see what they get up to next! Have a lovely summer, Barbara 6


Love Your Zoo Week To celebrate BIAZA’s Love Your Zoo week this year, we created a series of short videos all about our most popular animals. You can spot our rockhoppers here:

Tribal Elders Watch Dr George McGavin at our most recent Tribal Elders event discussing the good, bad and bug-ly of the insects that make up our intricate ecosystems:

Wee Beasties Our brand new Wee Beasties exhibit has now opened at Edinburgh Zoo. Watch this short on how we have been helping to release our very own special wee beasties back into their native habitats in French Polynesia:


Winter high-lights at the Zoo Edinburgh Zoo will be hosting a spectacular Chinese lantern festival this winter. At its heart will be more than 20 sets of large-scale silk lanterns in the shape of our animals and a few special guests – some up to 12m in size – made by

artisan craftsmen from the same province as the Zoo’s giant pandas. Visitors will be able to take a unique journey through the Zoo, guided by large collections of lanterns which highlight Chinese culture, the rare and endangered

Baby koala born Keepers at the Zoo are delighted to announce the arrival of a new joey to our koala pair Alinga and Goonaroo. The joey was born on 31 January and is doing well, but has not yet emerged. Young

animals we look after at the Zoo, and the vital conservation work RZSS carries out around the world. The event will run for 50 nights from 1 December until the end of February. Tickets will be on sale soon via the Zoo’s website.

koalas typically remain in their mother’s pouch for the first six to ten months. The next few months will be critical for the joey and we are asking visitors to be considerate and vigilant when visiting Koala Territory as koalas can be sensitive to noise. LifeLinks




RZSS’s Conservation team is working with a variety of native species in Scotland, with two new projects coming to fruition and a third about to enter an exciting new phase. In addition to our successful work with the critically endangered Partula snail, RZSS is now turning its hand to the conservation of the pond mud snail, which has suffered precipitous declines and can only be found in five ponds across

An evening of adventures More than 800 RZSS members visited the Zoo in May for our exclusive spring Member and Adopter Night. This behindthe-scenes event allowed our members, adopters and their 8


the whole of Scotland. RZSS is working closely with our partner Buglife to restore the species to its former ranges within the Lothian area. The natterjack toad is another rare Scottish species which we are taking action to protect. The rarest amphibian in Scotland, this toad is only found along one small stretch of the Solway coast. While the project is still in the early stages of development, our aim is to restore the species to a suitable

special guests to get a sneak peek into life at Edinburgh Zoo, after the crowds go home. From animal encounters and keeper talks to conservation film screenings and a Zoo

site within its former range. After all, how can you not want to help that smiley face? Last, but by no means least, the next phase of our beaver project in mid-Argyll is well under way. Our plan is to reinforce the Knapdale population to improve the gene pool and create a long-lasting, healthy population. This work will hopefully begin in September and run for three years. Stay tuned for updates over the coming months.

caricaturist, there was something for all ages. Stay tuned for updates on our next member event, which will take place in the autumn.

Spanish School Day Our first Spanish School Day was held at the Zoo on 8 June. More than 120 pupils had the chance to play our new Especies en Peligro (endangered species) board game, in which

players investigate the threats faced by four South American species and come up with potential solutions. The game is designed to develop players’ conservation awareness

and language skills. Pupils also had the opportunity to visit some of the Zoo’s South American species on the day, as well as enjoying a special Spanish lunch.

A day to remember The Wild about Scotland team descended on Edinburgh Zoo this Father’s Day for an extra special community event. With support from Clydesdale Bank, more than 400 tickets were divided between six Scottish charities for Wild about Scotland Day. The event allowed disadvantaged service users and families to visit the Zoo, engage with the programme and learn more about the fascinating wildlife that Scotland has to offer. By visiting the Wild about Scotland bus, taking part in workshops and exploring the Wild about Scotland garden, guests learnt about the simple steps we can all take to help safeguard the precious native species on our doorstep.

We were delighted to be joined by the Marine Conservation Society on the day, who were on hand to educate visitors about the amazing marine wildlife in Scotland. The event caps off a busy year for the Wild about Scotland team, with a number of major milestones achieved. The project has now engaged more than 55,000 people, visited 450 schools and reached all 32 local authorities in Scotland. The team has also established a dedicated volunteer group, launched a suite of online resources, attended the opening of the fifth session of the Scottish Parliament and won a prestigious BIAZA silver education award. LifeLinks



Red letter days for red pandas In the last issue of LifeLinks we mentioned that Bruce the red panda had joined the collection and was awaiting the arrival of a female. Ginger arrived at the Zoo just in time for Valentine’s Day and the pair have really hit it off. Ginger came from a zoo in the Netherlands, and we are delighted to report that the pair have settled into their new home extremely well. We are hopeful of breeding success in the near future. Upgrades to the enclosure were funded thanks to the very generous support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Meanwhile, up at the Highland Wildlife Park, our resident female gave birth to a pair of red panda kits in mid-June, her first since 2014. Mother and kits are doing well, with the youngsters likely to start emerging in September. The new arrivals are the fourth and fifth kits to be born at the park for our pair Kitty and Kevyn.

Pup-ular new arrivals

Keepers at the Highland Wildlife Park are celebrating the arrival of eight new wolf pups in the pack at Wolf Wood. The new arrivals were born on 21 May to mother Ruby and father Jax. Now around eight weeks old, the cubs are slowly starting to venture from their den 10


and become more visible. This is Ruby’s second litter, following the birth of six pups last year. The pack at the Highland Wildlife Park are European wolves, a subspecies of the grey wolf, which used to be the world’s most widely distributed mammal.

However, while it was found throughout most of Europe, like all other wolf subspecies it now has a much more restricted distribution. The European wolf used to occur in the UK, but the last British wolves were killed not far from the Park in the 1740s.


Just in time for World Penguin Day in April, we were proud to announce the arrival of a northern rockhopper chick, the first to hatch at Edinburgh Zoo for eight years. Now, at almost three months old, the chick is thriving in Penguins Rock and is being well cared for by mum Brucetta and dad Al. This new arrival is particularly significant as northern rockhopper penguins are classified as endangered on the IUCN Red

List. In addition to the colony at Penguins Rock, RZSS plays a key role in tackling the species’ decline in the wild, particularly on the remote islands of Tristan da Cunha, where populations have fallen by as much as 90 per cent. This year’s breeding success represents a real coup for the Zoo’s penguin team. Keepers worked closely with our veterinary department for months prior to breeding, looking at the birds’ weight, vitamin levels and general

health to ensure they were in peak physical condition. Unlike previous years, we also decided not to move the birds to a separate breeding enclosure, with the rockhoppers remaining in Penguins Rock throughout the breeding season. The new chick has also been joined by a further 20 gentoo penguin chicks over the past few months. You can follow all the action at Penguins Rock via our live penguin webcam:

Wildlife Wombles

Polar play

This spring, the Highland Wildlife Park hosted the premiere of A Year in the Life of the Park. Put together by our Wildlife Wombles, this unique film and photo gallery showcased the team’s amazing work over the past 12 months. Wildlife Wombles is a local project run in partnership with Health and Happiness and Caberfeidh Horizons, which provides employment for those with special needs.

A new polar bear-themed play area has just been installed at the Highland Wildlife Park. Built around a polar bear ‘cave’ and a series of icebergs, the new attraction features a double-width slide, ‘buddy board’ see-saw, a turnstile spinner and a sculpted iceberg trail. The new attraction – which is located next to the Polar Kiosk at the heart of the Park – is aimed at pre-school children and provides a fun and imaginative environment for our youngest visitors to explore. LifeLinks



Zoo gets gold for going green Edinburgh Zoo has received a prestigious Gold Award from VisitScotland’s Green Tourism scheme. The award, which is the highest accreditation available, recognises our commitment to the highest standards of sustainability throughout the site.

Penguin Parlour Mackie’s of Scotland has become the official suppliers of sweet treats at Edinburgh Zoo. Our new Penguin Parlour is now open and is well worth a visit over the summer months to sample the great selection of ice creams available.

BIAZA boost Douglas Richardson, Head of Living Collections at the Highland Wildlife Park, has been appointed Co-Chair of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria (BIAZA). This is clear recognition for the work Douglas has carried out at the Society over the past nine years, as well as his contribution to enclosure design and animal husbandry worldwide.



Kittens contribute to cat conservation The recent arrival of three Scottish wildcat kittens at the Highland Wildlife Park is just the tip of the iceberg for RZSS’s cat conservation efforts. The three kittens – born to mum Ness and dad Zak – have settled well into their surroundings, and it is hoped they will go on to play a vital role in the conservation of this threatened species. Elsewhere, RZSS’s WildGenes team is currently developing a unique molecular studbook for the species, helping to determine the exact lineage of every breeding wildcat in captivity to ensure we make the best possible breeding decisions in the future. The Highland Wildlife Park brought together cat specialists from across Europe earlier this year for the prestigious EAZA Felid Taxon Advisory Group meeting. The three-day event

gave international experts the chance to observe our work at close quarters and discuss next steps for some of the world’s most endangered cat species. Our work with Pallas’s cats continues to grow, particularly thanks to our involvement in the Pallas’s Cat International Conservation Alliance (PICA). Zoos across Europe and North America have added this species to their collection, while support and donations toward the project continue to grow. On top of the four field projects which PICA is currently supporting, the project has also developed threat surveys, and is in the process of completing new educational material that will help to improve awareness of the species across Pallas’s cat range countries.


S C H O O L’ S IN FOR SUMMER Joanna Dove, RZSS’s Summer School Co-ordinator, looks back on 20 years of a pioneering education programme which transforms the way children think about nature CONTINUED OVERLE AF>




Nearly 9,000 children have taken part in Edinburgh Zoo’s Summer School programme over the years


he sense of anticipation is palpable. The noisy murmur of 100 excited children as they enter the Education Centre, the frenzied activity of the Discovery and Learning team as we prepare for action, four weeks of wild and adventurous activities in store… Much has changed over the last 20 years of Edinburgh Zoo’s Summer School programme, but the ingredients are reassuringly familiar. On the first Monday of July, the Education Centre becomes a busy, bustling hive of activity. Children and staff embark upon a week of excitement, fun and adventure as we explore the Zoo together and take part in a wide range of activities, all inspired by conservation and zoology. “I got the idea at the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) conference in Barcelona in 1995,” explains Mary Patterson, RZSS’s former Head of Education, who started the programme in 1997. “I was keen to expand our programme by offering a summer educational activity based on wildlife and the culture of a particular place, that was also engaging and fun. “Maria, EAZA’s Education Officer at the time, had run one successfully and we decided to establish our own here in Edinburgh. Little did we know that the programme would still be going strong some 20 years later, having engaged with nearly 9,000 young people in total.” Summer School runs for four weeks each July, with places for children aged five to 15, and has grown to the point where we now engage with 400 children a year. During its initial pilot stage, the core Education team planned and delivered each week; now, a team of ten additional staff – plus many dedicated volunteers – are recruited to provide a



programme filled with innovative ideas, as well as great energy and excitement. Such has been the success of the programme that new Spring School and Summer Conservation Action Team (CAT) programmes have been introduced, allowing more of our younger visitors to engage with the wonderful world of Edinburgh Zoo and RZSS. “Summer School is the thing I am most proud of during my ten years at RZSS,” explains Ruth Fraser, Senior Education Officer and former Summer School Co-ordinator. “From working with so many wonderful people to hearing children say that it has been the best week of their life at the end of the day on Friday, Summer School is enormous fun to work on and great fun for the children involved, which is why so many return year after year.” In fact, some have been so inspired by their experiences at Summer School that they have come back to work at the Zoo in later life. Marion Watson, for example, attended our very first Summer School back in 1997 and now works full-time in the Zoo shop.

“Little did we know it would still be going strong 20 years later, having engaged with nearly 9,000 young people.” Mary Patterson, founder of the Summer School

“The programme is first and foremost about letting children enjoy themselves and have fun,” says Ruth, “but we also share lots of information about amazing animals and habitats. The hope is we can inspire a lifelong affinity with wildlife, encouraging children to take action and protect nature on their doorstep. “Summer School is anything but a conventional summer holiday programme. The memory of one of our S1-4 team dressed in a caterpillar costume, for example – consisting of an oversized green sleeping bag and some deelyboppers – while dancing and singing in the parent show, will stay with me forever.” The children who attend the programme are brilliant, too. I remember watching stop-motion animations where one of the P6/7 groups had the inspired idea of using red glitter to represent blood as a kookaburra hunted its prey; or the P4/5 giggles as Dillon the three-banded armadillo snuffled their feet and Boyd and Irwin, the rainbow

Joanna visited Budongo earlier this year to help prepare content for this year’s Summer School

lorikeets, landed on their teacher’s head; or the brilliant performance of the P2/3 group as they re-enacted the full Penguin Parade around the Education Centre lecture theatre for proud parents. Every year is different and I can’t wait to meet the 2017 groups. Summer School adopts a specific theme every year, giving special focus to games, science experiments, arts, crafts, dance and drama. No year is ever the same, and I love watching our students play, learn and develop as they go. Our very first theme in 1997 was Africa and, as an homage to those early years, we plan to return to it in 2017. I was lucky enough to visit the Budongo Conservation Field Station earlier this year to help inspire and develop plans for the programme’s 20th anniversary. The trip was an amazing opportunity to learn more about one of RZSS’s most long-standing and important conservation projects, but it also gave me first-hand experience of a rich African rainforest and its resident chimpanzees, something which I hope to bring to life over the course of this year’s Summer School. With this year’s instalment in the final stages of planning, attention is already turning to the future of the programme over the next few years. “We are so proud to have reached Summer School’s 20th birthday and it’s a real testament to Mary’s original idea,” says Amy Cox, RZSS’s Programme Leader. “Our task is to make sure that this amazing project continues to go from strength to strength. Who knows, maybe we’ll be invited back in 20 years’ time to celebrate its 40th anniversary!” Δ LifeLinks




Edinburgh Zoo’s Animal Antics is a daily adventure at the top of the hill. In this article, Tim Power meets the newest members of the Presentations team 16



ust like the seven dwarfs in the Snow White fairytale, the Zoo’s flock of pygmy goats all have different personalities: some bossy, some bashful, some nosey. Although this could make Erika Oulton’s work difficult when she runs the twice-daily Animal Antics show at Edinburgh Zoo, the small goats have been quick learners and respond to her directions like little professionals… well, most of the time. Erika is a Senior Animal Presenter and is involved in a lot of the animal encounters which the Zoo runs for the public, such as the Keeper Experience programme and Animal Antics demonstrations. She originally started as a keeper 19 years ago, and is passionate about sharing her knowledge of animal behaviour and environmental adaptions that help species survive in the wild. To make these experiences both engaging for the animals involved and informative for members of the public, Erika and the Presentations team train some of the animals to exhibit natural behaviours at particular times. “We use different techniques with different animals at the Zoo to either help us show their natural behaviours in the wild, or to help with veterinary interventions,” says Erika. “For example, we have trained our rhinos to lie down and put their feet up to help treat their hoofs, and have trained the pandas to open their mouths to inspect their teeth.” The team try and tap into what they call ‘reinforcers’; the things, in other words, which animals like and enjoy as part of their natural existence. For example, goats enjoy a good scratch, so the team give them this as a reward, whereas rhinos like a carrot or bit of banana. Keepers also use target training, where a stick with a ball on the end of it is used to gently touch an animal’s nose when they are about to receive a reward for displaying a particular behaviour. This technique can also be used

Above: Senior Animal Presenter Erika Oulton with one of the pygmy goats Left: Team Leader of Presentations Sarah Wright shows training is not just for kids

on their feet if a keeper wants them to lift their foot up, as is the case with the rhino inspections mentioned earlier. The idea is that eventually animals will make the link between the target activity and a reward. As for the pygmy goats, they are trained – and are pretty excited! – to be led around the arena, jump up onto stones and logs to show how agile they are, and stand up on their back feet to reach up into the trees to eat leaves, as they do in the wild. Erika explains: “We can cue these behaviours to happen by using certain signs and rewards that the goats understand. For example, when I put my hand up with a finger pointing to the sky they know when to get up on their back feet. “They are clever wee things as they learn so quickly, but they all have different personalities, so while this is a challenge you have to adapt your training slightly for each and every animal you work with.” The pygmy goats do not just delight the crowds with their

antics, they also play an important educational role, helping raise awareness of RZSS’s work out in the Budongo Conservation Field Station in Uganda. “The Goat Loan Scheme is an important tool in persuading local people in the Budongo Forest not to poach animals using wire snares, which often catch and injure chimpanzees. Obviously people need to eat and earn a living for their families, but by offering a pair of goats in return for giving up poaching, the team in Uganda are bringing about lasting benefits for both people and wildlife. “Thanks to our herd of pygmy goats here at Edinburgh Zoo, we can bring this story to life for an audience many thousands of miles away, which in turn helps us continue support for the field station itself.” The pygmy goats are just one of the stars of the Animal Antics show, which also includes several kunekune pigs which forage for food, rainbow lorikeets that interact with the public, and a turkey vulture which – while

it may not lead the way in the cuteness stakes – impresses the crowd with its wide wingspan as it flies right over people’s heads. Other future stars in training include an Indian eagle owl, whose snake-hunting skills will soon be on display, as well as a small barn owl, which is being trained to hunt down a target that buzzes to illustrate its acute hearing. “We are always keen to strike the right balance between excitement and education, and to make sure that our animals are only ever exhibiting behaviours that they would display naturally in the wild. “The ultimate aim is to make people go ‘wow’ and feel amazed by these animals and how they have adapted to their environment. Hopefully, these experiences will inspire some among the crowd to discover more about these animals, particularly the children, whose interest can often grow into a lifelong career in conservation. For many people, this is the first experience of wildlife they’ve ever had.” Δ LifeLinks





ith colouring designed to camouflage and conceal, leopards can be hard to spot at the best of times, but in the case of the pair of Amur leopards now resident at the Highland Wildlife Park, there’s little point even trying. Housed in a new off-show facility in an inaccessible part of the Park, the animals will never be seen by the public, while their anticipated offspring will barely even have contact with keepers. It may seem counter-intuitive for a zoo to hide away its exhibits, but this is no ordinary addition to the collection. The most northerly sub-species of leopard, with a wild range that once extended across the Far East of Russia and north



east China to the Korean peninsula, the animal has disappeared from most of its former territory through a combination of illegal hunting and habitat loss. Classed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List, with fewer than 70 individuals left in the wild, the Amur leopard is thought to be the rarest cat in the world. The challenge now is to work with what is a well-managed captive population of around 200 leopards to help boost numbers in the wild – which is where the Park’s off-show breeding facility comes in. Made possible by a generous, anonymous donation, the project sees the Park build on its breeding success with a variety of threatened carnivores by


With its new off-show Amur leopard facility, the Highland Wildlife Park is set to play a pioneering role in the reintroduction of the world’s rarest cat, writes Rich Rowe

“It’s just not possible for most zoos to carry out an off-show project like this with such a large animal.” Douglas Richardson, Head of Living Collections

creating a unique facility intended to help speed up a planned reintroduction process for this critically endangered animal. Blessed with large swathes of undeveloped land, the Park has been able to enclose an almost 6,000m² area of wild Highland habitat that now provides ideal terrain for the leopards. Surrounded by a natural screen of mature juniper and birch, it is far removed from visitors and any passing traffic. Even keepers have to be working specifically with the animals to come anywhere near the enclosure.

The Land of the Leopard National Park – where our leopards’ offspring may end up – was established in the south west of the Primorsky Province, Russia in 2012. It covers 60 per cent of the Amur leopard’s total habitat in the wild

Reintroduction project The opening of the enclosure marks the fruition of three years of detailed discussion and planning. Together with the Amur leopard breeding programme co-ordinator, based at ZSL London Zoo, and an advisor from the International Zoo Veterinary Group, the Park has worked closely with Russian wildlife authorities to refine a reintroduction plan, produce guidelines on how reintroduction candidates are managed, and visit the proposed release site north east of Vladivostok. One of the chief difficulties with returning captive-bred large carnivores to the wild is that they are habituated to humans and so not cautious of them. However, the unique level of privacy afforded by the new leopard complex enables the Park to produce and rear cubs that are not familiar with humans, making them directly eligible for release as part of the Russian reintroduction project. Much of course depends on how the two leopards interact; while both have been settling in on-site for some time, they have not yet been formally introduced. The male, Freddo, born at Estonia’s Tallinn Zoo, moved into one half of the new enclosure on arrival at the Park in July last year, while the female, Arina, born at Twycross Zoo, has been housed in another off-show facility since her arrival a few months before. CONTINUED OVERLE AF> LifeLinks




Both are three years old and, while still young, are now of breeding age. If the introduction goes well, the pair could produce and rear cubs this year – with their offspring potentially returning to Russia as early as mid- to late-2018. “They are not together in the same enclosure yet and we don’t know for sure when they will be,” explains Douglas Richardson, the Park’s Head of Living Collections, and the originator and designer of the project. “We are monitoring the situation and taking it step by step. When at the cutting edge of this kind of conservation breeding and animal husbandry, it’s important not to just go barrelling in.” And it is the moment when cubs are produced that the new breeding facility will really come into its own. While the adult leopards come from the zoo community and are habituated to humans, any potential offspring will not be. So, once cubs are on the ground, Park staff will take a big step back and leave the cubs to grow and develop in their wild enclosure. “The exposure to keepers will be kept as close to zero as possible,” explains Douglas. 20


Right: Amur leopards patrol their territory in the Land of the Leopard National Park, Russia


Melting into the surrounding landscape: the Amur leopard enclosure (centre of the picture, with green fencing) is kept deliberately separate from visitor facilities

Eyes and ears Few zoos have the physical space to carry out such work with threatened big cats, so the eyes of the industry are once again very much on the Park. “There is great interest in the project from institutions around the world,” confirms Douglas. “We are so blessed with the extent and nature of the terrain available at the Park. It’s just not possible for most zoos to carry out an off-show project like this with such a large animal.” While visitors will not be able to see the leopards in the flesh, the hope is that they too will be able to keep a close eye on this vitally important conservation breeding project. “We hope to create an information hub that tells the story of the project, perhaps with some form of remote camera set-up that provides glimpses of the leopards,” says Douglas. Such interpretation would serve not only to highlight the plight of the Amur leopard, but perhaps also challenge traditional perceptions of zoos – in this case, one that is home to high-profile animals that have simply melted into the surrounding landscape. Δ About the author: Rich Rowe is a freelance outdoors writer based in the Scottish Borders. LifeLinks




C R E AT I N G CO N S E R VAT I O N G AT E WAY S IN THE BUDONGO FOREST Jon-Paul Orsi meets the unsung heroes of the Budongo Forest in Uganda – a team of transect cutters without whom much of the field station’s activities would be impossible


t is mid-morning, the heat of the day is starting to long; there are no chainsaws or heavy machinery kick in and I find myself bouncing around in the to assist their progress. Godfrey, who has worked back of an old Land Cruiser heading deep into in the forest for ten years, gives me an overview of the Budongo Forest. Fred Odong, the driver at the their work and the tools they use. Pangas (Ugandan Budongo Conservation Field Station, is taking us to machetes) are used to clear vines and foliage, axes meet the transect cutting team and it is hard not to be take care of larger branches and, where necessary, in awe of his driving skills. The track is barely even long bow saws are used to cut larger trunks and that, and frequently we encounter obstacles that clear fallen trees. Progress can be surprisingly fast seem impassable. Fred, however, has been bouncing – on a good day the team can clear up to 1km of over rocks, power-sliding through mud and snaking transect – but fallen trees and heavy rain can slow under fallen trees for more than 14 years. Although this quite dramatically. progress is slow, we are grateful for the ride, During my trip, the team are busy opening which would otherwise have taken many up a new road, which means travelling hours on foot. 30km to the outer edges of the grid. The field station has been Given the distances involved it is undertaking research in the often more practical to camp – for Budongo Forest for almost three up to two weeks at a time – and, decades and has now grown to the while water and food are taken point that it is transitioning into a out to the cutters regularly by non-governmental organisation. Fred, even in a vehicle it can take Ever-increasing areas of study over an hour to reach them. The include chimpanzee health campsite itself is basic: blue monitoring, vocalisation and tarpaulins draped over wooden Fred brings supplies in ‘Drogba’ the social behaviour, smaller primates, pole frames, which in turn border a Land Cruiser birds and tree phenology. While the central fire pit. Water cans are piled up topics may vary, they all have one key at the side and makeshift washing lines requirement in common: access to the dense are strung between trees.  Budongo Forest. At the campsite I meet the youngest member The transect cutters maintain a crucial 200km of the team, Godfrey Andrua, who has been at the network of pathways, spanning an area of around CONTINUED OVERLE AF> 2,000 hectares. The work is hard and the days are



Members of the Sonso chimpanzee community resting along one of the forest paths





field station for three years. The younger Godfrey is tasked with maintaining the campsite and providing a steady supply of tea and food for his older colleagues. His day starts at 5.30am, getting the fire pit going and warming tea ready for the cutters to start work at 6.30. As he stirs a large pot over the fire, it is clear how much he relishes being out in the forest, learning from his older colleagues and observing the animals. He talks proudly about the land he has been able to buy with his salary and his plans to build his own house. At first glance it is all too easy to underestimate the importance of the transect cutters. I ask Sadiq Olah, Head Transect Cutter, why he thinks their work is important and he replies quite simply that they allow the researchers and veterinary teams access to the forest. While this is undoubtedly true, he is also being very modest about the team’s wider contribution. Researchers spend long days in the dense rainforest, and navigating through it is a slow and tiring process. Jagged thickets, creepers, vines, fallen trees and rivers have to be negotiated, making paths 24


a hugely valuable resource (even the chimpanzees seem to enjoy using them). And there is nothing accidental about the route each path takes. The grid is made up of perpendicular paths, set at regular intervals and labelled in sequential order. This grid provides an invaluable wayfinding tool when entering the forest. An essential navigation aid in the early days of the field station and vital backup to GPS today, it is an equally important labelling system for academic purposes, too. Research is central to almost all the work that goes on at the field station, and the long-term dataset that has been captured here is one of Budongo’s most valuable assets. The grid provides a vital reference point for observations and studies. Just as each path is labelled, so is each ‘block’ of forest that the intersecting paths create. Everything – from tree phenology to feeding behaviour of smaller primates and snare counts – is being studied and referenced using this grid system. The Budongo veterinary team also benefits. It can take up to three months to remove a snare from a chimpanzee. This means long days out in the forest carrying heavy veterinary equipment. The grid greatly eases this journey, in addition to

Researchers observing chimpanzees in the Budongo Forest

providing clear lines of sight for darting when required. Sadly, there are also occasions when chimpanzee carcasses need to be recovered and brought back for a post-mortem, and again the transects help aid this process. 2017 happens to be a census year. At around 70,000 hectares (or three times the size of Edinburgh), the Budongo Forest is home to several chimpanzee communities, not to mention countless other species of flora and fauna. To conduct each census, temporary transect lines are created by Sadiq and his team to allow researchers access to carefully plotted areas of the forest. Understanding long-term patterns in forest health, fruiting levels and species distribution is essential information, helping to inform not only the field station’s activities but also those of governmental agencies such as the National Forestry Authority. The transect cutters have one final role to play in protecting the Budongo Forest and its inhabitants – spotting signs of illegal activity. One of the most powerful examples of this has been the dramatic reduction in the number of snares set in the forest. To illustrate the point, Nelson Diro, one of the transect cutters, holds up a handful of snares (nine

Snares recovered from the forest by the transect team

in total) that had been recovered by the team just that morning. And the team’s work does not end there. Their presence can be enough to dissuade some of the larger-scale criminal activity, too, such as charcoal burning and pit-sawing, even if it is just in the area immediately surrounding the field station. As we pack up and prepare to leave, I ask the older of the two Godfreys what he enjoys most about his work at the field station. He talks to me passionately about how he is very happy in his job, and about the satisfaction he gets seeing the chimpanzees and other wildlife they are helping protect. It is also clear that he and his colleagues take pride in what their jobs allow them to do in their personal lives – pay for food, clothes and for their children to go to school. On leaving I say a heartfelt thank you to the team for the pathways they have created. Besides their helping to compensate for my general lack of fitness when trekking in the forest, during my trip I have observed first hand just how vital their work is to the field station. What at first glance may look like humble paths are in reality much more: they are conservation gateways into the Budongo Forest. Δ LifeLinks



RETURN OF THE MAC Charlotte Macdonald is RZSS’s new Director of Conservation and Living Collections, having arrived from Twycross Zoo in June. She worked for RZSS previously between 2001 and 2010, latterly as Head Keeper of Living Links


t is with great pleasure that I have returned to Scotland and to RZSS as Director of Conservation and Living Collections. I have spent my first few weeks re-familiarising myself with the organisation and realising how much has changed in the six and a half years that I have been away. Some of you may remember that I left Edinburgh Zoo when I was the Head Keeper of Living Links to take on the new challenge of being a Curator – and latterly the Director of Life Sciences – at Twycross Zoo. I spent my time at Twycross working with a dynamic and passionate group of people to re-develop an aging zoo, with a very important and conservation-critical collection of animals that were living in older facilities. The main challenge was to prioritise the massive task ahead into manageable pieces, addressing the most important problems first. Almost seven years later, I have left Twycross Zoo at a stage in its development where things are improving year on year and many new animal, visitor and staff endeavours are in place. So, how does that relate to RZSS and how can I comment having been back for just a few weeks? Well, the RZSS teams are equally dedicated and passionate, with a drive to move things forward and develop, not just our physical sites at Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park, but also what we do in terms of conservation, engagement and science. I hope that I can focus that passion and help lead the Society to improve on the activities and outputs of what is already a highly regarded conservation organisation. I have only been back for a couple of weeks and already I can see the dedication and energy that is present across our organisation, and that is what will be key to moving forward. Having been a zookeeper for most of my working life, starting at Dublin Zoo at 16 years old with my Saturday job, I believe this gives me a unique insight into not just our organisation but also the role of modern zoos. Zoos are becoming more important to 26


society but also more challenged by society, and it is my privilege to help to navigate our organisation through the tasks and opportunities ahead. Most immediately, having left Twycross Zoo – which is a very flat site – the first challenge I am working on is tackling that hill! Δ


BEAR NECESSITIES Una Richardson became Head Keeper at the Highland Wildlife Park in 2010, with responsibility for the ‘walk around’ area of the Park, which includes polar bears, Amur tigers and Scottish wildcats


have been working with animals for more than 25 years now and, as Head Keeper at the Highland Wildlife Park, it is my job to look after large carnivores, a selection of birds and various other animals – anything within the collection, in other words, that doesn’t have hooves! One of my favourite species to work with is the polar bear, albeit it’s not without its challenges. When our female Victoria arrived, for example, she was placed into an enclosure away from the boys (polar bears in the wild are predominantly solitary). This means that to introduce our male and female bears we need to move Arktos across the Park – a distance of over a mile – ideally without the need for sedation. In order to make this happen, we have had to do a lot of training to make Arktos comfortable entering his purpose-built transport crate. Over a period of several months we established a routine to familiarise him with the crate using positive reinforcement methods, and still continue with this work every day to facilitate his move back into his own enclosure.

Una volunteered with Free the Bears in Laos

I have always wanted to work with animals, and this passion has taken me to some fantastic places over the years. Most recently, I took a year’s sabbatical to go and work in Laos with the charity Free the Bears, which is striving to bring bear bile farming to an end in Vietnam and protect Laos’ wild bears from the many threats that surround them. I have followed the work of Free the Bears for several years and, when I saw an advertisement for a technical advisor at one of its rescue facilities, I knew the time was right to volunteer. The next thing I knew I was on a plane bound for Laos in South East Asia to work with Free the Bears’ local staff on building capacity within the team. This involved everything from assessing bears’ personalities and forming groups based on these observations to assisting in the rescue of bears, hand rearing and providing medication to the animals. Once we got the nitty gritty stuff out of the way, I was also able to work with staff to carry out some simple training work with the bears, enabling staff to carry out health checks and observations, much like we do at the Highland Wildlife Park. No two days are ever the same working with animals and it is fantastic to work for an organisation which has such a strong focus on conservation. I can’t imagine doing anything else. My year out volunteering is one example of how good zoological institutions can share skills with animal facilities in developing countries. Δ LifeLinks



THE HIDDEN GARDENS OF EDINBURGH ZOO With over 100 years of rich horticultural history, Edinburgh Zoo is home to some 82 acres of surprises just waiting to be discovered. In this article, Rab Harden, Head Gardener, shares some of his top tips for exploring the park this summer 1. Bamboo nurseries The first of our two bamboo nurseries, located by the giant panda enclosure, demonstrates some of the bamboo species found across Asia, Australia, the Americas and Sub-Saharan Africa. It takes a team of specialists to ensure this diverse range of plants are kept healthy and robust. Further up the hill, the second, larger nursery houses 3,000 plants, which are used as a food source for our giant pandas.



There are more than 26 species of bamboo found within the Zoo – use our bamboo key to spot them all.

2. Rose Garden

Rab Harden, Head Gardener at Edinburgh Zoo

2828 LifeLinks LifeLinks

The Zoo’s renowned Rose Garden sits a stone’s throw from members’ gate. The current plantation was reinstated to celebrate the Zoo’s centenary in 2013. Today’s plot sits on the same site as the original, which was developed by volunteer Alice Gair some 104 years ago. There are over 400 rose plants within the garden (stemming from 29 different varieties), and an additional 300 hedging plants to be found here.



6. Tree collection


There are over 7,000 plants and 1,200 trees within the Zoo, each from a range of microclimates. Many of the trees visible today were planted the early 1900s. One of the most spectacular in the collection is the Davidia involucrata, or handkerchief tree. When weather conditions are optimal, this beautiful tree can be seen showing off its white fluttering blooms towards the end of July.


5. Physic Garden This tranquil spot is testament to the skills and experience of two of our dedicated gardening volunteers, Celia and Sam. The pair have spent many months bringing the garden to life for visitors to enjoy. This little known gem takes you on a horticultural world tour, right in the heart of the Zoo. Follow the garden’s winding paths and discover how humans and animals benefit from nature’s very own pharmacy.

4. Corstorphine sycamore


 4  2


(Acer pseudoplatanus Corstorphinense) These distinctive, yellow sycamores are easy to spot. The original (and now largest) was planted in 1920 to commemorate the Great War. Despite growing so successfully within Zoo boundaries, these trees are incredibly rare; Corstorphinense only grow from vegetative cuttings, making them some of the most unique and valuable in our collection. So unique, in fact, that this specific type of sycamore can only be found within the confines of Edinburgh itself.

3. Filter pond Currently home to an array of plants and frogs, the filter pond will see new water lilies and marginal plants arriving this summer. It is hoped that these, combined with the removal of reed beds and the opening out of the pond itself, will encourage families of dragonflies and newts to build their homes here.






his summer, Rab Harden celebrates his 16th anniversary in the RZSS Gardens team. With so much experience, there was one obvious question to ask: where is Rab’s favourite place within the Zoo grounds? “There’s no better spot than the Hilltop Viewpoint,” he says. “On a clear day, the view spans right above the tree canopies which roll over the Zoo grounds; you feel on top of the world. It’s such a calm, quiet spot. You can see the whole city and surrounding hills – there’s literally nowhere else like it.” Rab goes on to explain how this view has changed quite a bit since the Zoo first began. “Before the Zoo opened its doors to the public in 1913, the site was a plant nursery owned by Thomas Blaikie, a Scottish botanist and plant collector. Blaikie also planted many of the great French parks such as the Parisian botanic garden, Parc de Bagatelle. His legacy lives on today throughout the Zoo. You can find a memorial stone for Blaikie on the walkway that runs beneath the otter enclosure, where the path meets the pygmy hippo enclosure. “Today, Edinburgh Zoo is home to one of the most diverse plant and tree collections in Scotland,” Rab explains. “We have studied the plants in our collection for many years, ensuring that we can give the animals that live here authentic habitats to explore and thrive in. Of course, it’s even better when we can provide our visitors with enclosures



to see, or even walk through, themselves. Take the lemur walkthrough enclosure, for example. In the wild, lemurs thrive on really fresh fruit, so we planted a series of seasonal fruit trees throughout their enclosure. This allows the lemurs to graze as they would in the wild, and encourages them to exhibit their natural, playful behaviours.” On asking Rab which was his favourite gardening project since joining the Society, he was quick to answer. “Without a doubt, our new Tiger Tracks enclosure. This project was something completely new for the team. We wanted to ensure our Sumatran tigers’ new home contained as many elements of their natural horticulture as possible. Over 15 months, the site was developed to include over 3,700 different plants and trees, all nestled in 600 tonnes of recycled compost and soil. We received a bronze BIAZA horticulture award for the enclosure, and our Sumatran tigers have settled in really well. It’s not just our tigers who love their new space – it has proved so popular with visitors that it has even seen a few wedding proposals, but I won’t give too much away! I’ll leave you to discover the enclosure’s surprises for yourself,” he adds. Δ There are full versions of the Garden Highlights maps available for collection at the main entrance to Edinburgh Zoo.



EDINBURGH ZOO This summer, RZSS will open a big new attraction for some of the smallest animals in our collection. The new Wee Beasties exhibit will see the former Discovery Centre next to Penguins Rock transformed into an exciting, interactive animal exhibition and teaching space CONTINUED OVERLE AF>





ee Beasties will include a year-round display of reptiles, amphibians and insects. The new attraction will also host educational sessions and live animal-handling encounters, highlighting the diversity of life on Earth and the important role even the smallest species play in our natural world – and the great impact they have on our lives. Many of the small creatures housed in the exhibit are threatened with extinction in various different parts of the globe. These threats range from over-exploitation for food or the pet trade to pollution, climate change, disease, habitat loss

and degradation. As a result, the species are often considered to be good indicators of the health of the wider ecosystem. Wee Beasties will help visitors learn about the implications these threats have on the species, and the impact this has on the wider environment. Opened in July, Wee Beasties also gives Zoo visitors the opportunity to get closer than ever before to some of our most unusual animals. During July there will be frequent handling sessions, allowing people to meet the keepers and get to know our creepy crawlies throughout the day.


Dendrobates azureus

DIET: Insectivore: eats a variety of different insects

HABITAT: Dry forests and grasslands


A nocturnal species, the lesser hedgehog tenrec has poor eyesight but an excellent sense of smell and hearing

Least concern

ABOUT Despite appearances, the lesser hedgehog tenrec is not related to the hedgehog; they are actually more closely related to elephants and manatees. The species is found in the arid regions of southern Madagascar, where they live in dry forests, coastal regions, scrub and semi-desert areas. Lesser hedgehog tenrecs are semiarboreal, splitting their time between trees and the ground.



BLUE POISON ARROW FROG DIET: Insectivore: mainly ants, but other insects as well


The blue poison arrow frog’s striking blue colour warns predators that their skin is poisonous


RED LIST STATUS: Least concern

ABOUT These frogs are named after the poisonous secretions that cover their skin. Most poison arrow frogs are the size of an adult human’s thumbnail, about half an inch to one inch long. While both males and females have four toes with enlarged suction cup tips to help them climb trees, they can be distinguished by the shape of their toes.

DIET: Herbivore: algae and rotting plants

HABITAT: Rainforests

There are 86 recorded species of Partula snail. Of these, 51 are extinct, 11 are extinct in the wild and 15 are critically endangered

RED LIST STATUS: Critically endangered



Partula taeniata simulans

The main threat to this small species of snail is the introduction of non-native snail species. In order to conserve the remaining species of Partula snail, many were taken into captivity for breeding purposes. RZSS has been involved with the species since 1984 and was given the very last captive individual of the Partula taeniata simulans subspecies in 2010, which the Zoo has subsequently bred to a safe level of several hundred.

AXOLOTL NATAL DWARF CHAMELEON Bradypodion thamnobates DIET: Insectivore: a variety of different insects

HABITAT: Forests and grasslands


The Natal dwarf chameleon can move each eye independently, allowing them to look two ways at once

ABOUT The Natal dwarf chameleon is a small, brownish chameleon of no more than 11cm in length, which is capable of changing colour in order to camouflage. They are traded heavily in the international pet trade, and most of their natural habitat has been turned into farms and wood plantations. This has caused this species to be classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

Ambystoma mexicanum DIET: Insectivore: algae when young, aquatic insects as adults

HABITAT: Deep water lakes


Axolotls can fully regrow missing tissue – even whole limbs

Critically endangered

ABOUT The entire wild population of this unusual species lives in an area of less than 10km2 on the edge of Mexico City. The name axolotl is thought to have originated from the Aztecs, derived from two words: ‘atl’, meaning water, and ‘xolotl’, meaning monster. Axolotls do not develop adult characteristics but retain their gills, fins and other larval characteristics throughout their life. They live permanently in water, in wetlands and canals.



IN BLACK AND WHITE All the latest on our giant pandas

Habitat research RZSS formed the Edinburgh Consortium for Giant Panda Conservation and Landscape Restoration in 2015, alongside our partners Forest Research, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the University of Edinburgh, the China Conservation Research Centre for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP) and the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA). As the name suggests, this group has a mutual interest in

Breeding update In March we were joined by experts from China, Germany and America as part of our panda breeding programme here at Edinburgh Zoo. We began hormone monitoring in December last year and, as of 17-18 March, Tian Tian hit peak oestrus, the earliest this has happened over the past six years and fully a month and a half earlier than last year. As in previous years, behavioural observations 34


taking forward groundbreaking research into giant pandas and their habitat, and applying these findings in the wild. Recently, our work has centred on the habitat pandas currently occupy and whether that habitat is suboptimal – in other words, has the giant panda always lived in the remote, mountainous bamboo forests of western China, or has land-use change over time affected their distribution? This question is fundamental to our long-term approach to made by our Chinese partners suggested that natural mating was not going to be possible, so artificial insemination was carried out using Yang Guang’s sperm later on that weekend. Tian Tian was given access outdoors a day after the procedure and both pandas are doing well, with Tian Tian splitting her time between her new nesting box and the wider enclosure over the past few weeks. Keep an eye on our website for all the latest updates.

panda conservation, and four Master’s projects from Edinburgh University and Edinburgh Napier University have been looking into the impact of climate and habitat change on giant pandas over the past 200-300 years. This research, together with Dr Linda Neaves’ work on panda diet at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, suggests that mountainous regions may well not be biologically optimal for the species, and that what we think of as a typical panda diet (i.e. bamboo) might not be the preferred foodstuff of the species after all. While this work is still at an early stage, over the next few months we will be bringing together experts from the UK and China to discuss a five-year research project into giant panda habitat, with the aim of shaping our collective conservation approach in the field. With fewer than 2,000 pandas scattered across three provinces in western China, this work will be crucial to ensure the forward momentum of panda conservation is maintained.



C ATCH UP ON THE L ATES T E VENTS J U LY SATURDAY 8, 8.30AM TO 3PM Photography tour, Highland Wildlife Park, adults £150, members £135 Looking to take your photography skills to the next level? Join us for an unforgettable day learning how to take better animal photographs and make the most of your camera. Suitable for all levels.

SUNDAY 13, 11AM TO 5PM, Wild about Scotland Bus Helix Park, Falkirk, free The Wild about Scotland bus will be joining the fun at the Big Picnic this year at Helix Park, home to the renowned Kelpies of Falkirk. Why not drop in and learn about native Scottish wildlife and biodiversity on this great family day out.

Book online at highlandwildlifepark.

SUNDAY 20, 2PM TO 6PM Spiders: Fight your phobia Edinburgh Zoo, adults £80, members £72 This half-day course is designed to help you to overcome your fear of spiders in a friendly, relaxed and supportive atmosphere.

SATURDAY 15, 10AM TO 4.30PM Wild about Scotland Bus, Scottish Deer Centre, free Come along to our classroom with a difference. The bus has been fully converted to provide a fun, inspired and completely unique series of practical sessions all about Scotland’s natural history. Whether it’s dam building, wildlife quizzes, identifying skulls and furs or learning all about our conservation work, there’s plenty of fun for everyone. No booking required

AU GU S T SATURDAY 5, 8.30AM TO 3PM, Photography workshop Highland Wildlife Park, adults £150, members £135 Spend the day alongside our experienced guide and keepers, who will accompany your group as you explore the Park with your camera. The day will begin before the Park is open to the public, and provides a safe opportunity for you to get that close-up shot that wouldn’t be possible on a normal visit to the Park. Book online at highlandwildlifepark.

No booking required

Book online at events-calendar

SEPTEMBER FRIDAY 8, TIME TBC, An Evening with Arnaud, Edinburgh Zoo, free to members Enjoy an evening with Arnaud Desbiez from the Giant Armadillo Conservation Project as he shares the story behind the BBC2 documentary Hotel Armadillo and gives the latest news from the Pantanal. Book online at events-calendar

FRIDAY 15 TO SUNDAY 17, TIMES TBC, Film screenings, Edinburgh Zoo From movie buffs to animal lovers, join us this September for a weekend full of your favourite big-screen heroes. Our selection of films will include some of the latest family-friendly blockbusters – with added animal sound effects included for free! Book online at events-calendar

SATURDAY 16, 2PM TO 6PM Spiders: Fight your phobia Edinburgh Zoo, adults £80, members £72 By combining hypnotherapy with information sessions, this workshop can help remove negative associations with spiders and reinforce a more positive mindset. Book online at events-calendar

O C TO B E R SUNDAY 1, 2PM TO 6PM Fear Fighting: Phobia workshop Edinburgh Zoo, adults £80, members £72 Do you have a spider phobia? Let us help you fight it with this workshop. Hypnotherapist Morag Torrance will be on hand to help you address and understand your phobias while our keepers will give you an insight into the fascinating world of spiders. With proven results, this workshop is a must. Book online at events-calendar

SATURDAY 7 TO SUNDAY 29, TIMES TBC, Creepy Crawlies, Edinburgh Zoo Our hugely popular Creepy Crawlies event returns this October, allowing visitors to get up close with our very own creeping, scuttling, slithering and wriggling creatures at Edinburgh Zoo. No booking required

For more details, please visit and events or contact our Events team on or 0131 314 0340 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).

Don’t miss out, download our app Find out more at LifeLinks


Now Open New for 2017 Enter our brand new reptile, amphibian and creepy crawly house. Find them over beside the penguins.


Profile for RZSS

RZSS LifeLinks - Summer 2017  

RZSS LifeLinks - Summer 2017  

Profile for rzss

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded