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Our history


The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland was founded in 1909, by an Edinburgh lawyer Thomas Gillespie. A visionary and nature enthusiast, in only four years he garnered sufficient support and funding to enable the Society to buy an 85 acre site to the west of Edinburgh, for £17,000 with help from the City of Edinburgh Council.

Edinburgh Zoo was opened to the public on 22 July 1913, and was incorporated by Royal Charter later that year. However, it was only in 1948, following a visit by HRH King George VI, that the Society was granted the privilege of adding the prefix 'Royal' to its name. It remains the only zoo with a Royal Charter in the United Kingdom. Today Edinburgh Zoo is home to over 1000 animals.

In 1986 the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland acquired the Highland Wildlife Park in Kincraig. The Highland Wildlife Park is now home to over 200 amazing animals including native Scottish species as well as rare and endangered animals from the world's mountains and tundra regions.

In addition to operating Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland supports education, reasearch and conservation projects in the UK and around the world.