Forty Highland Years and Over Forty Highland Babies
Tuesday, 28 Aug 2012
2012 is the 40th anniversary year of Highland Wildlife Park in Inverness-shire, and so far this year it's also been a bumper year for the pitter-patter of tiny, and in some cases not so tiny, feet - with over 40 babies being born and reared at the park so far this year - a record breaking bumper baby boom!
To follow is a list of 2012's brood of new-borns:
- 8th April - 2 Scottish wildcat kittens
- 21st, 22nd and 25th April - 3 Japanese macaques
- 1st May - European bison
- 15th May - European elk
- 25th May - 5 wolf pups
- 26th May - Bukhara deer and a European bison
- 29th May - 2 lynx kittens
- 31st May - European bison
- 3rd, 10th, 11th, and 12th June - 4 red deer
- 13th June - Himalayan tahr
- 14th June - Eastern kiang
- 15th June - 6 red deer
- 17th June - 2 red deer
- 19th June - Japanese macaque, Eastern kiang and a European bison
- 20th June - Turkmenian markhor
- 25th June - Eastern kiang
- 6th July - red deer, Mishmi takin
- 7th July - Himalayan tahr
- 13th July - Himalayan tahr (this is the 40th baby born and reared)
- 14th July - Japanese serow
- 21st July - 4 wildcats and 2 European bison
- 4th August - Chinese goral
2012's first new borns were a litter of two Scottish wildcats followed by three Japanese macaques, also known as snow monkeys, to the troop back in April this year. Born just days apart these active monkeys are instantly recognisable due to their bright red faces and dark fur, they are also perfectly adapted to living in the Highland climate as they are able to cope with temperatures from well below zero to the high twenties. You can also tune in to see this boisterous troop's antics at www.highlandwildlifepark.org/snow-monkey-webcam
The Park also welcomed a European bison calf, this adventurous youngster was later joined by five further calves throughout May, June and July. Born into the UK's largest herd of European bison, these powerful youngsters were sired by Irish-born bull Tomek and in the future will go onto help play their part in the crucial conservation breeding programme for this threatened species.
This youngster was the 4th European elk calf born at the Park since first breeding the species back in 2009. European elk are the largest member of the deer family and became extinct in Scotland over 3,000 years ago. Known for their rather long legs, which can make them look slightly gangly, they can gallop at speeds of around 35 miles (55 km) an hour. Bob and Froja the Park's resident elk couple welcomed Froja's first calf in May; Bob has been a dad three times before.
May also saw the arrival of five European wolf pups at the Park; mum Elara and dad Puika's little pups were the first to be born at the park in 12 years. As they were born during the Park's 40th anniversary, two of the pups have been named Ruby/Ruben and Forty!
Highland Wildlife Park also welcomed a new Bukhara Deer calf, the Park is the only place in the UK with a breeding herd of this species of deer. Doting mum, Mariam had her third calf in May, larger than their red relatives their young can be easily spotted due to their darker coats and bright white spots.
Northern Lynx occurred in Scotland historically and the Park welcomed female Dimma and male Switch earlier this year so it's fantastic news that this pair have got on so well and have successfully bred together. These Lynx kittens are a great addition to the breeding programme for this species and they are the first lynx kittens born at the Park in 24 years!
Brave and Merida the Scottish wildcat twin kittens born in April made their debut when they started to explore their enclosure in June. Also known as Highland tigers, these cats are one of Britain's rarest animals, with as few as 400 thought to be left in the UK, all of which are located in the Highlands. This iconic duo took their names from the 2012 smash hit animation film Brave which features a whole host of native Highland species.
The Highland herd of red deer welcomed lots of new arrivals, 13 in fact, to the large herd of deer at the Park. These striking animals are Britain's largest land mammals, and they are commonly found throughout the Scottish Highlands. The youngsters are staying fairly close to their mums although they can often be spotted venturing a little further away. Unlike most species, the Park has a hands-off policy with the herd of red deer, and manages them as you would a wild herd.
Hobbit, the new Mishmi takin calf was born to mum Cava and dad Raci on 6th July was the first takin calf to be reared at the Park in two years. Takins are endangered in the wild and the new youngster can be easily spotted due to the gulf in size between an adult takin and a calf. Hobbit is a great success in terms of the European Zoo Association's breeding and conservation programme for this species.
The Himalayan tahr calves were born in June and July, the 40th baby to be reared this year at the Park was a Himalayan tahr calf! These sure footed relatives of the goat live high up in the Himalayas. Perfectly adapted to life at dizzying heights, these spritely animals are excellent climbers and feel perfectly at home when tackling steep rocky terrain. Amazingly these youngsters are able to stand and walk three hours after birth.
The Eastern kiangs, also known as the Tibetan wild ass, welcomed a trio of new arrivals this year continuing the successful breeding of this species which started in 2008. The herd of kiangs at the Park are the only ones in the UK and the trio were quick to find their feet and can often be spotted playing with each other.
New-born Nettle, the Turkmenian markhor is amongst the new kids on the block at the Park. This large species of goat is Critically Endangered due to being a target for trophy hunters and poached for the traditional medicine trade, who want their impressive corkscrew-like horns. Nettle is definitely a welcome addition to the Park and is great news for this severely threatened species as she will go on to play an important role in the breeding programme for these animals.
Natives to Japan, Japanese serows can often be found in small family groups living high up on steep, rocky, mountainous terrain. Couple Ed and Willow who have lived at the Park since 2009 are the parents. Once on the brink of extinction in the 1950's due to overhunting, their population has grown and their numbers in the wild are stable. Like a number of animals at the Highland Wildlife Park, there are no other representatives of this species in any other UK collection.
The latest new-born in the Highlands is the Chinese goral kid, born to doting parents Beijing and Bobby. The most primitive of the wild sheep and goats, gorals are expert climbers and can easily negotiate the steep slopes and unsteady ground that they inhabit; they are also perfectly engineered to thrive in cold high altitude environments. Little is known about this threatened species and it is hoped that what the Park can learn from this family group will then go on to increase our understanding of this unusual animal.
Douglas Richardson, animal collection manager at Highland Wildlife Park, said:
"This year sees the Park celebrate its 40th anniversary, and as well as celebrating this milestone, we're very excited to find that 2012 has also seen us celebrate a record year so far for births which is in a large part the culmination of a great deal of hard work by the Park's animal staff.
"2012 has definitely been a fantastic success to date in terms of our breeding and conservation programmes - with 48 babies being born and reared from 14 species here at the Park. These youngsters are a great result and in future years they will go on to help ensure the survival of some truly iconic species.
"Among the cohort of new babies are some extremely noteworthy arrivals, such as our two sets of Scottish wildcat kittens, also known as Highland tigers. These feisty felines are one of Britain's most endangered animals, with only around 400 thought to be left in the wild.
"In May, Wolf Wood welcomed the birth of five European wolf pups - wolves have been a part of Park life since we first opened 40 years ago. These pups were after the first to be born at the Park after a 12 year gap since our last litter of wolves. The arrival of the pups was the signal we were waiting on that demonstrates that our enclosure, which was opened by the Princess Royal in 2010, was suitable for the animals. They are proving to be a real hit with our visitors who are keen to learn more about a species that once roamed over most of the country.
"A more recent arrival is that of our new Chinese goral kid and she is a perfect example of the unique nature of the Park's animal collection. Goral, takin, kiang, serow, Japanese macaque, markhor and tahr babies can be seen in no other animal collection in the UK.
"2012 is proving to be a remarkable year for the Park in a number of ways. Reaching our 40th anniversary, bucking the trend with good numbers of visitors, eventually getting good summer weather, and of course rearing this veritable avalanche of babies has given us a great deal to celebrate. We are increasingly becoming a player in the wider conservation community with responsibility for some of the planet's most threatened species. Life does indeed seem to begin at 40."
July. to Aug.
10.00 am - 6.00 pm
Apr, May, June, Sept, Oct.
10.00 am - 5.00 pm
Nov. to Mar.
10.00 am - 4.00 pm