Highland Wildlife Park

Lynx Trio Explores Highland Wildlife Park


At almost three months old, the Northern Lynx triplets, at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park in Scotland, spent their first few weeks huddled together in the warmth of various dens with their mother, but they are now bravely venturing out to explore their whole enclosure. 



4_RZSSHWP_2015NorthernLynxCubs9_creditAlexRiddell.JPGPhoto Credits: Alex Riddell/RZSS

Born to mum, Dimma, and dad, Switch, on May 25, this is the fourth consecutive year the couple have had cubs. Una Richardson, Head Keeper for Carnivores at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, commented, “This is the fourth year in a row they have produced cubs - a real testament to the quality of the animal husbandry and the enclosure here. Dimma gave birth to her previous litters in the bushes at the front of the enclosure, which required us to rope-off the adjacent visitor path, but this year she has opted for the privacy and security of the nest boxes provided in the lynx house.”

Dimma, which means 'fog' in Swedish, was born on the 24 May 2010, at Boras Wild Animal Park, in Sweden, and she arrived at Highland Wildlife Park in February 2012. Switch was born May 2010, in Latvia, and came to the Park one month after Dimma

The cubs’ antics are generating quite a stir with keepers and visitors to the Park. Richardson remarked, “Watching the cubs play fighting with each other, running and tumbling about the enclosure, it’s easy to see why they are quickly becoming favorites with both staff and visitors, over the past few weeks. They have been putting on quite a show, especially at feeding time when they routinely play stalk and pounce on sections of meat as big as themselves.”

RZSS Highland Wildlife Park's Lynx are part of the European Zoo Association's coordinated breeding programme and, although the species is not endangered, it has become locally extinct in many areas across Europe, resulting in some sub-populations being considered “endangered” or even “critically endangered”. The Lynx occurred in the UK until possibly as late as the Middle Ages. Loss of habitat, reduced prey availability and illegal hunting are the biggest threats to wild Lynx populations. There have been a number of successful Lynx reintroduction projects within Europe, including in Switzerland and France.

Northern Lynx have a short, thick tail with a blunt black tip. They have distinctive dark tufts on their ears, which are thought to act a bit like antennae in helping to locate prey using their excellent hearing. The Lynx also has exceptional leaping ability, as it is an ambush predator

They also have a pale sandy-grey to rusty-red colored coat, with indistinct spots. In winter, the coat becomes much denser and the large, rounded feet help them travel over deep snow.

Northern lynx mate in late February to early March. They usually have 2 or 3 kittens, which stay with their mother until next breeding season.

More great pics, below the fold!

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Rare Foal Springs Into Scotland

A spunky Przewalski’s Horse was born on April 30 at Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park.  Once extinct in the wild, Przewalski’s (pronounced Shevalsky’s) or Mongolian Wild Horses have been reintroduced to their native habitat thanks to the efforts of several European zoos.

700_0449Photo Credit:  Highland Wildlife Park/Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

The little foal, which has not yet been named, follows its mother Val around the drive-through reserve and appears to be healthy and strong.

Found in the steppes of Central Asia, Przelwalski’s Wild Horses are the last surviving species of wild Horse and are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Formally listed as extinct in the wild in 1969, the IUCN reclassified Przelwalski’s Wild Horses to Endangered after the species was successfully re-introduced into their native Mongolia in 1992.

Though zoos have had success breeding this species and they have become reestablished in the wild, Przelwalski’s Wild Horse populations are still considered precarious, partly due to threats from poachers. 

Muskox Birth Gives Keepers Reason For Hope


Keepers at Highland Wildlife Park are excited to announce the arrival of a Muskox calf. 

Mum, Karin, who was born in the Czech Republic in 2002, gave birth to the male calf on June 2, 2014. This is a major event for the Park as Muskox are difficult to breed due to high neonatal mortality rates. The last Muskox calf to survive until adulthood in the UK was born in 1992.




Last year, Belle the Muskox calf sadly passed away at Highland Wildlife Park at around five months old due to an injury inflicted by one of her parents. Musk-ox calves are notoriously difficult to rear in captivity as their weak immune systems means that they are highly susceptible to disease and infection, and the inherent aggressiveness of the adults further complicates the situation. This year keepers are working hard to make sure this new arrival has a successful outcome. 

Douglas Richardson, Head of Living Collections at Highland Wildlife Park, said:

“Although we are very pleased with our latest Muskox calf, we are certainly not out of the woods yet and have a long way to go before we can confidently say that we have been successful.  He is growing well and is being closely monitored by his keepers, but the young of the species are extremely fragile and in light of losing last year’s calf, we have altered our husbandry protocol to hopefully avoid a similar problem. He will remain off show with his mother for some time yet and will be named at a later date.”

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An Endangered Przewalksi's Horse Joins the Herd at Highland Wildlife Park

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Keepers at the Highland Wildlife Park in Scotland have just welcomed their first new-born Przewalski’s horse in five years. Born on September 2 to 12-year-old mare Ieda, the plucky little youngster is doing well and can already be seen out and about in the Park's main reserve.

Przewalski’s horses were once extinct in the wild, with the last wild horse seen in 1968. A small captive-bred population was reintroduced in Mongolia's Hustai National Park in the 1990s. There are now around 1,500 Przewalski's horses found in captive breeding programs throughout the world, with a further 250 or so found in the wild. Now listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, they are the only true wild horse species to survive.

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4 horsePhoto Credits: Highland Widllife Park

Douglas Richardson, head of living collections for the Highland Wildlife Park, says, "Przewalski's horses are one of the best examples of the positive conservation role that good zoos can play. Had it not been for the cooperatively managed captive population, when the species became extinct in the wild in the late 1960s there would have been no reintroduction option that has allowed us to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat."

See and learn more about the herd after the fold.

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Rare Tiger Cub Duo Thrives at Highland Wildlife Park


A pair of Amur Tiger cubs, born on May 29, are taking their first steps at the Highland Wildlife Park in Scotland. Though the cubs are mother Dominika's first litter, she has taken well to being a mother. She has been grooming the cubs and keeping a watchful eye on them as they explore their surroundings. Their father, four year-old Marty, is gradually being introduced to the pair through the wire mesh doors. Keepers are confident that he will not present a risk to the cubs.


The month-old cubs represent a significant birth for the Park. Una Richardson, Head Keeper at the Highland Wildlife Park, comments: "We could not be more delighted that our female Amur Tiger Dominika has given birth to two beautiful cubs. Every animal birth is special, but perhaps none more so than an Amur Tiger birth. Extremely endangered, at one point it was thought only 50 of these big cats still existed in the wild. What makes the birth extra special for us is that Dominika was actually born here at the Highland Wildlife Park in May 2009."


Dominika and Marty were paired through a recommendation by the European Zoo Association's Amur Tiger breeding program. Amur Tigers are Endangered, with only 350-450 individuals remaining in the wild. While the wild population is possibly stable, the species continues to be threatened by poaching and habitat destruction.

Photo Credits; Jan Morse (1), Alex Riddell (2,3,4)

Musk-Ox Calf is a First for Highland Wildlife Park


Highland Wildlife Park’s female Musk-ox, Karin, has given birth to the Zoo's first ever Musk-ox calf. Born on Wednesday, May 15th, little Belle has spent her first few weeks of life off-show with mom, but has now started to venture out into her outdoor enclosure.

Belle’s mother Karin was born in the Czech Republic in 2002 and came to the Park only 18 months ago in January 2012. Three-year-old father Myse arrived a few months later in May.



Photo credits: Alex Riddell

Belle is not only a little cutie, but this hooved newbie is also a significant step in the Musk-ox breeding program– she is the first Musk-ox to be born in the UK in 17 years, an important achievement for the Zoo’s expert animal husbandry team. 

Musk-oxen have an extremely thick coat which consists of two parts: long course outer hairs and a soft dense undercoat called qiviut (pronounced kiv-ee-ut). Qiviut wool is highly prized for its softness, length, and insulation; it is considered to be one of the lightest and warmest wools in the world.

Meet Hobbit, Highland Wildlife Park's Newborn Takin


The Mishmi Takin herd at the UK's Highland Wildlife Park has welcomed a newborn male calf called Hobbit. Born early in July to doting mum Cava and indifferent dad Raci, this Mishmi Takin is the first calf to be reared in the Highland herd since 2010.  Hobbit by name, hobbit in size - this youngster is easy to spot due to the size difference between him and the adults and his 2 year old siblings. He also has a white band of hair across his forehead where his horns will eventually be. At just 20 days old, Hobbit is still staying quite close to mum Cava, but has more recently been exploring the enclosure solo. Amazingly takin calves can follow their mums just one day after birth over a whole host of different terrain.

Due to their size and muscular strength the only predators for these feisty animals are tigers, leopards and possibly bears, although they now find themselves under threat in the wild due to hunting for meat, the traditional medicine trade and habitat loss.

Douglas Richardson, animal collection manager at the Highland Wildlife Park, said, "Because of their size and slightly bizarre appearance, the takin are fairly popular with our visitors, in part because most people cannot quite figure out what they are. From a conservation perspective, the Mishmi takin is listed as Endangered and the European breeding program, which is managed by staff from the Highland Wildlife Park, may be of increasing importance given the pressures upon the wild population."


Photo Credit: Alex Riddell

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Wolf Quints Make Their Debut

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Five furry European Grey Wolf pups made their debut last week at Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park.  Born on May 25 to mum Elara and dad Puika, the still-shy six-week-old pups are starting to explore their forested habitat, aptly named Wolf Wood.   It’s been 12 years since Wolves were born at the park.

The pups’ genders are not yet known, but park officials have already decided to name one of the pups “Forty,” in honor of the park’s 40th anniversary.   

 “The pups, especially one particularly bold individual, are now beginning to wander around the large wooded enclosure, which does seem to cause their mother some anxiety,” said Douglas Richardson, Animal Collection Manager.  “The Park is visited by quite a number of people with a special interest in Wolves and it is hoped that this latest breeding success will generate further interest in this much-maligned species, especially as it is an animal that formerly roamed over most of the country.”

Wolves were once common throughout Europe, but in the 1800s, they were eliminated in most of central and northern Europe.  Since then, Wolves have been reestablished in some parts of the region, despite threats from overhunting and poaching.  Today, the largest wild European Grey Wolf populations are in the eastern European countries of Poland and Romania, and in the Balkans.

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Photo credit:  Alex Riddell

Scottish Wildcat Kitten Twins Debut

Wildcat Kittens at Edinburgh Zoo 2

Meet Merida and Brave, Highland Wildlife Park's 10 week old Scottish Wildcat twins. Born April 8th, the brother and sister pair are quite adventurous, exploring their exhibit, wrestling, and practicing their pounce. The kittens are certainly keeping proud parents, five year old mum Seasaidh and eight year old dad Hamish, busy.

Scottish Wildcats, also known as Highland Tigers, are one of Britain’s rarest animals with as few as 400 thought to be left in the UK, mainly in the Scottish Highlands. These felines at first glance could be mistaken for a feral domestic cat, but have wider heads, distinctive striped coats, and blunt, bushy tails.

Scottish Wildcat Kitten Edinburgh Zoo

Una Richardson, head keeper at the Highland Wildlife Park, said:

“As there are thought to be less than 400 Scottish Wildcats left in the Highlands, these cats are incredibly rare and endangered so this is a huge milestone for this species and the park. The kittens will play a vital role in the conservation of this historic Scottish species along withincreasing visitor awareness of the problems facing this most iconic Scottish animal.”

It's a Tiny Trio of Snow Monkey Babies

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The Japanese Macaque troop, also known as snow monkeys, at the UK's Highland Wildlife Park recently welcomed a trio of babies born between April 21 and 25. The three belong to moms Mang, Djangal and Angara. Still only 3 weeks old, the babies are staying close to their mothers. The gender of the little ones will not be determined for a bit and until then, they won't be named, but keepers are already noticing their different characters starting to come through. One in particular is a little more boisterous than the others!

Japanese macaques are found throughout Japan, living in large troupes in woodland and sub-tropical forests. Instantly recognisable due to their bright red faces and white fur, these primates are fully adapted to seasonal climate changes as temperatures in Japan can plummet to as low as -15°C in the winter, making their Scottish Highland home ideal. There are now 21 Japanese macaques living at the Highland Wildlife Park. 

Mom and baby

Photo Credit: Jon Paul-Orsi