Animal collection manager Keith Gilchrist gives us the Highland Wildlife Park low down. Read all about our latest arrivals and what else is happening while we're closed.

Highland Wildlife Park is currently closed to the public following government advice on the coronavirus pandemic. But while our visitors and as many of the team as possible are staying safe at home, there are still animals to be cared for.

The keepers are doing everything they can to make life as normal as possible for all the residents here at the park. Especially our new arrivals!

We were thrilled to announce last week that we had two Mishmi takin calves born in March and they have been named Mountain and Drogo, after characters from Game of Thrones. This tradition started six years ago because lots of the keepers were fans of the show and other members of the herd include Khaleesi, Brienne, Tyrion and Arya.

Mountain was born to mum Rosie on 7 March and Drogo a week later on 15 March to mum Chimi. They both seem to be doing well.

Last week, we also celebrated a Eurasian crane chick hatching! The first 30 days are critical for a newborn chick’s survival, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on the youngster at this sensitive time.

Once we find out the sex by testing its feathers, we’ll come up with a suitable name. The last chick to be born at the park was also our first ever and was named Insh, after Loch Insh.

Before too long it’ll be time for new arrivals in the main reserve as well. Keep your fingers crossed for more bison calves, as our herd plays an important role in supporting reintroduction efforts in mainland Europe, and we’ll be expecting more Przewalski's horse foals this year too.

Meanwhile, our snow leopard cubs are growing up quickly! Right now, the cubs are eating about 5kgs of meat between themselves and mum, Animesh. Stardust seems to be a little bit bolder than Leannain and is usually the first to explore any new enrichment devices the keepers give them.  

This spell of warmer weather has slowed our wolves down a bit as they are only now losing their winter coats. Merrick, who is almost 2 years old, seems to be the most active just now and the keepers have increased the recall training that they do with the pack. This involves three or four keepers stationed around the outside of the enclosure who take turns blowing whistles and throwing food over. All the running back and forth helps to burn off any excess energy they might have – it’s quite a spectacle!

We'll be sure to keep you up to date with our latest news and continue to highlight our many conservation projects here in Scotland and around the world.

As a charity, we rely entirely on the support of our visitors and members. We receive no government funding to run the park, and without being open, we now face a real challenge. 

Park visitors, members and supporters make it possible to feed each animal with the individual foods they need. Our shopping list stretches from fresh fruit and veg, to salmon and meats. We need to raise over £6,000 every month to pay the food bill and the good news is that you can help.

If you want to help look after our animals and save species in the wild, find out how at highlandwildlifepark.org.uk/help.

We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who has already donated during this difficult time – it really is appreciated. Hopefully we’ll be able to welcome you all back soon.

In the meantime, stay safe!

Keith Gilchrist

Animal Collection Manager

 

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