Edinburgh Zoo, formally the Scottish National Zoological Park, is a non-profit zoological park located in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland. The land lies on the Corstorphine Hill, from which it provides extensive views of the city. Built in 1913, and owned by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, it receives over 600,000 visitors a year, which makes it Scotland's second most popular paid-for tourist attraction, after Edinburgh Castle. As well as catering to tourists and locals, the Zoo is involved in many scientific pursuits, such as captive breeding of endangered animals, researching into animal behaviour, and active participation in various conservation programs around the world.
The Zoo is the only zoo in Britain to house polar bears and koalas, as well as being the first zoo in the world to house and to breed penguins.
As of 2007, Edinburgh Zoo has about 1,000 animals on its 82 acres of parkland. Due to Edinburgh's fairly cold climate, the Zoo has in recent years chosen to predominantly focus on mammals and birds, although several reptile and amphibian exhibits can still be found indoors in the revamped Discovery Centre.
The Zoo currently exhibits Britain's only koalas, two males named Chumbee and Jannali, and Britain's only polar bear, a female named Mercedes. Other high profile mammals are two male Indian Rhinoceroses (Fanindra and Babuu), a pair of jaguars (Mowgli and Handaya), and a breeding pairs of rare Amur Tigers (Yuri and Sasha) and Asiatic Lions (Royal, Gita and Kamlesh).
The main bulk of mammals on show are African hunting dogs, bush dogs, Maned Wolf, wolverines, ratels, European sousliks, marbled polecats, Pallas cats, Temminck's golden cats, margays, otters, Sea lions, Giant Anteater, Bactrian Camel, zebra, vicunas, bongo, Thorold's deer, Siberian musk deer, Lesser Kudu, goral, Japanese Serow,hog deer, Bawean deer, nyalas, Kirk's Dik-diks, takins, capybaras, Malayan tapirs, pygmy hippos, Red River Hogs, Visayan Warty Pigs, warthogs, aye ayes, titi monkeys, purple-faced Langurs, drills, gelada baboons, Red Ruffed Lemurs, ring-tailed lemurs, North American tree pocupine and a large group of Common Chimpanzees. With Swamp wallaby, gaur and kulan due to arrive this year.
The Zoo is particularly famed for its large collection of penguins, including king penguins, gentoo penguins and rockhopper penguins. The port of Leith provided passage for the first three king penguins via the Christian Salvesen whaling expedition of January 1914, and among the current king penguins is Colonel-in-Chief Nils Olav II. A popular daily Penguin Parade, whereby many penguins are let out of their enclosure, and waddle round the penguin plaza after their keepers through a gathered crowd of observing public visitors..
Other birds include flamingos, cassowarys, Steller's sea eagles, black storks, crane, Darwin's Rhea, raven, owls, hammerkops, thick-billed parrots, and Victoria Crowned Pigeons.
December 2007 marked the completion and opening of Rainbow Landings, a walk-through aviary for lories and lorikeets. The hyperactive birds fly in and amongst the public visitors, and any of the hundreds of birds can be can be fed nectar from small pots available for purchase.
Other animals that can be found indoors include pythons, corn snakes, Indian Star tortoises, mice, rats, guinea pigs, a sulphur-crested Cockatoo, axolotls, tarantulas, a White's tree frog, Madagascar hissing cockroaches and giant African land snails. Many of these are available for public animal handling sessions, known as Close Encounters, held daily at noon in the Discovery Centre.
Touch Tables are operated throughout the Zoo, allowing visitors to see and feel animal artefacts up-close. Most of these artefacts are rare and exotic, including such items as tiger skulls, elephant skin, turtle shell and rhino horn.
Also on-grounds is Mansion House, formerly Corstorphine Hill House, an old estate house with over two hundred years of history within its walls, and is available for private formal bookings.
Further details about Edinburgh Zoo can be viewed on their website.
Where is Edinburgh Zoo?