I recently took a trip up to Edinburgh, and whilst I was there I was I took a little trip to the zoo. I’ve been before, but not for a good few years, and given that I was only in Edinburgh for a limited time and it was a toss up between the zoo and the castle, the zoo won. I mean, it’s me. Cute animals are always going to win.
Zoo’s can be a bit of a controversial topic, not everyone agrees with them. I distinctly remember my A-Level biology teacher sitting out of a field trip to Chester Zoo because she didn’t agree with them at all. Even with zoos there are good zoos and bad zoos, and like most things, a handful of bad ones can give them all a bad name.
However, with the amount of habitat destruction and the current rates of extinction my personal belief is that zoos, along with nature reserves, play an important role in the conservation of species, so long as their primary focus is education and conservation. Take for example, tigers. The RZSS has two species of tiger across their two sites, a male Sumatran Tiger at Edinburgh Zoo, and Amur Tigers at the Highland Wildlife Park. Both these subspecies of tigers, along with all other subspecies of tigers are threatened with extinction.
Possibly one of the most famous animals at Edinburgh Zoo are the two pandas that they have there. I only managed to see one of them whilst I was there, and in typical panda fashion when I was there it was eating bamboo. I’m convinced that all pandas do is eat, sleep, and fall over. It’s honestly a good job they’re cute and people like them because they don’t even like reproducing.
Whilst they may be popular with the visitors, the pandas are very visitor shy and, like the pandas, the koala’s are too. I think I was lucky to see any koalas at all while I was at there, they were all fast asleep in the back of the trees. I could only really see them if you looked at the exhibit from a specific angle, which is probably why they chose to sleep there in the first place.
Unlike the koalas, the otters were loud and playful. Though at least this time when I went to see them they were playing in the outdoor bit of their enclosure. They may be cute and adorable, but for such small animals they sure do stink.
It wouldn’t be me if I went to a zoo or animal park and didn’t see at least one kind of bird, and Edinburgh Zoo has a lot of different types of bird. I could’ve spent over half my day just looking at the different types of birds that they had, taking photos and making notes on the different species that I saw to do more research on them later. Instead, I only managed to get photos of a few different types.
There were pelicans, which for some reason always seem so much bigger than I expect them to be. They also have a few different species of penguins, and it’s easy to see why they’re so popular with visitors. They’re cute and funny, with their awkward waddle and their underwater acrobatics. They also like coming up to visitors and are naturally quite curious. And whilst not an exhibit, I did manage to get this photo of a robin.
One of the most important animals at the zoo, and probably one that doesn’t immediately spring to mind when you think of a zoo, is the Scottish wildcat, Britain’s only native wild cat species. Whilst closely related to the domestic cat, this more reclusive cousin has a few distinct differences. They’re bigger, with a much bigger skull, and whilst their markings are very similar to a domestic tabby their dorsal stripe stops at the base of their tail, which is fat and blunt with black rings down it.
Edinburgh Zoo is doing essential work to try and save the Scottish wildcat and to boost their numbers. But like most of the species in the zoo their biggest threat is human beings, through habitat loss, climate change, and importantly in the wildcat’s case, irresponsible pet ownership.
I can’t wait to go back again, though hopefully next time I go I’ll have a bit more time.