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RZSS Chief Executive's Blog - March 2016

16/03/2016 in RZSS

Science Festival Events

I am pleased to announce that RZSS Edinburgh Zoo will once again be taking part in the Edinburgh International Science Festival this year, with a number of exciting events from 26 March to 10 April.

Our main event is Science Night at the Zoo on Saturday 9 April. Taking place from 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm, this after-hours, family friendly event will combine a silent disco, comedy and photo stations with an assortment of interactive science stations, where visitors will be able to find out more about the work done by RZSS. From extracting the DNA from a strawberry to primate research and conservation programmes, there will definitely be something for everyone to enjoy and explore. Tickets cost £12 for adults, £8 for children and £10 for members.

To find out more about all the events taking place at the Zoo during the Edinburgh International Science Festival, please visit our events page.

In other news from the Zoo, the penguins’ annual breeding season has begun with the placing of the nest rings and pebbles into Penguins Rock. The rockhopper penguins have also been moved to their own breeding enclosure, which suits their natural breeding behaviour. The gentoos have all paired up and filled their nests with pebbles – we’re expecting the first eggs in April, with the first hatchings in May.

Staff of People’s Postcode Lottery were in the Zoo last week, carrying out volunteering duties on site. The group put in some hard manual labour, helping to break ground on Tiger Tracks, our new tiger enclosure. We are grateful for the volunteers’ work on the new enclosure, as well as the support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery which is helping deliver core programmes across RZSS.

In news from RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, we have recently welcomed a new male Scottish wildcat to the Park from Aigas Field Centre in Inverness-shire. He will be introduced to two of the females with the hope of breeding, helping increase numbers of this endangered species. If you would like to read more about our cat conservation work both here in Scotland and abroad, do take a look at RZSS Cat Conservation Officer David Barclay’s blog. His latest blog has some wonderful video footage of a snow leopard out in the wild in Nepal, producing a loud mating call against the snowy backdrop of the Himalayas.

Another new blog that we have added to our website is the RZSS vets’ blog. This month’s offering provides an interesting insight into the annual penguin health checks which are performed on our large colonies of gentoo, rockhopper and king penguins.

And finally, one of our PhD students has recently returned to Gabon after spending a month working with the RZSS WildGenes laboratory and Conservation department. Stéphanie Bourgeois spent the time working on her PhD thesis as well as on a report to the EU on the use of genetic analysis to assist with monitoring of the illegal trade in ivory. The WildGenes lab has been pioneering the use of genetic data for wildlife crime enforcement for a number of years. The lab has been working on projects such as tracing elephant ivory from Africa and Asia, and tracing the provenance of snake skin in the fashion trade. Stéphanie will continue working on the RZSS Illegal Wildlife Trade project in Gabon, using the knowledge which she had gained in her time here with us.

“If we can teach people about wildlife, they will be touched. Share my wildlife with me. Because humans want to save things that they love.”

– Steve Irwin

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