About Highland Wildlife Park

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) 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 RZSS to buy an 82 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.  

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

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

Wildlife Wombles group poses and wave in front of polar bear statue in car park IMAGE: FoSho 2023


In its original charter, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland had the principle objective 'to promote, facilitate and encourage the study of zoology and kindred subjects and to foster and develop amongst the people an interest in and knowledge of animal life.' Education has always been at the core of the park's activities, and we are proud of our international reputation for excellence in this field.

2030 Mission

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland is a wildlife conservation charity with a bold vision: a world where nature is protected, valued and loved.

But we cannot achieve this alone. Our vision needs an inspired and empowered worldwide community to join together – and you have a role to play.

With your support, we can achieve our pledge to reverse the decline of at least 50 species by 2030, from pine hoverflies and wildcats in the Cairngorms National Park, to chimpanzees in Uganda, giant anteaters in Brazil and many more.

Making nature more accessible is fundamental because people protect and value what they love and understand.

Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park are our gateways to the natural world through which people can experience nature. They can learn about the challenges facing wildlife and discover how we harness our expertise in conservation science and animal care to save species from extinction.

All of this is made possible through the unique strength of the RZSS family – our teams, supporters and partners.

Our zoos will therefore be the cornerstones of our pledge to create deeper connections with nature for more than a million people by 2030.

Stronger communities have a greater capacity to care for wildlife – and through our zoos and our global reach we can help people realise the mental and physical health and wellbeing benefits of being close to nature.

This is why we are pledging to enable more than 100 communities to better protect nature by 2030.

Now is the time to work more collaboratively than ever before, using the skills and experience of all who hold nature dear.

Now is the time to win hearts and minds, ensuring everyone recognises the true value of nature and its crucial role in our health, wellbeing, prosperity and happiness.

Now is the time to inspire and empower people and communities to love and protect nature for today, tomorrow and generations to come.

Now is the time. 

Read our 2030 strategy in full