National award for Highland Wildlife Park’s Douglas Richardson

07/08/2018 in RZSS

Highland Wildlife Park’s head of living collections Douglas Richardson has become the first person to receive the prestigious Trailblazer Award from the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA).

Douglas, from Kingussie, was given the accolade for his pioneering work with polar bears at a recent award ceremony which celebrated the achievements of leading zoos and aquariums in the UK.

The award recognises the contribution Douglas has made to the conservation and welfare of this iconic species, through the creation and design of the park’s naturalistic polar bear habitats.

In December, the park welcomed the birth of Hamish, the first polar bear to be born in the UK for 25 years. Hamish is now six months old and has been hugely popular with visitors.

Douglas said “I was honoured to receive this unique award from my peers, friends and colleagues within the British and Irish zoo community and the announcement certainly came as a surprise. 

“The principles behind the design of our habitats and our husbandry regime are now being mirrored in a range of other zoos and not just for polar bears.  I’m proud to see our relatively small collection having such a positive impact beyond our perimeter fence. 

Our plans for RZSS Highland Wildlife Park were originally viewed as being rather risky, as many new ideas often are, and I am very grateful to the RZSS leadership for having the courage to allow us to push the envelope, trial new methods and dramatically improve the welfare of the bears.”


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