Christmas trees, wreaths and logs
29 November 2013
Biaza Award Commendations.
27 November 2013
Winners of Zoo Oscars Announced!
Blair Drummond Safari Park was congratulated by the zoo world following a prestigious awards ceremony held at ZSL London Zoo in recognition for our Elephant Habitat. Blair Drummond’s Education Officer, Dave Warren, also received commendation for his behind the scenes photograph ‘Inside’.
BIAZA (the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums) held its annual awards ceremony, known as the Zoo “Oscars” to celebrate some of the incredible contributions made by the zoo community to animal welfare, wildlife conservation, public understanding and horticulture.
The Elephant Habitat was commended in the category ‘best new habitat’. It was officially opened in April 2013 by HRH. The Princess Royal. The habitat has been designed to give the elephants a far greater range of decision making in their daily lives while keeping them in the best possible physical and mental health.
The design, which is all in-house, evolved over 5 years. All work was undertaken by local businesses and trades people, with the living area for the elephants being developed and built in-house by the parks own engineer.
We wanted the public to be able to see the entire habitat including most of the areas which are usually off view.
Dr Kirsten Pullen, CEO of BIAZA said: “The annual BIAZA awards are a celebration of our achievements within the fields of conservation, education, research and animal welfare. The awards highlight the crucial work carried out in zoos and aquariums. All of this year’s award-winning projects show the exceptional contributions our members are making to wildlife conservation, animal husbandry and welfare, and public understanding for species both in the UK and overseas. We congratulate all the winners.”
The photograph taken by the Blair Drummond Safari Park’s Education Officer. Titled ‘inside’, it received commendation in the BIAZA behind the scenes category. It was taken during the post mortem after the loss of Estrella 49, the park’s eldest resident African Elephant. The subject is a vet inside the chest cavity of an elephant. The post mortem was essential to provide more information about illness, to further medical research and improve welfare and husbandry for captive elephants.
Images and further information on all awards are available:
For further information please contact BIAZA:
Zara Gaspar, Communications Manager, BIAZA, T: 020 7449 6599, M 07738008600 Email:
Karis, our new lion cub.
15 November 2013
It is with great joy we can announce the birth of Karis, born on September 10 to mother Teekay and father Dudley, she has already won over a lot of hearts. Her big sister Libby was born two years ago and was the last addition to our pride, we are sure she will be incredibly playful with her new sister. Karis will stay with her mother until she is 12 weeks old and they can be returned to the pride, therefore, she will not be on display until 2014.
Head of carnivores, Mr Reid said: 'Teekay and Karis have been bonding in the house next door to the main pride, so everyone knows there is a new kid on the block, but we just want to make sure that Karis is a good size before we mix her with the rest of pride.'
She was a healthy 5kg today at one month old, and is expected to grow to around 150kg and brings our pride to eight lions in total.
Park manager Gary Gilmour said: 'Even though she is a wee cutie, keepers had to use a hessian sack to help with the weigh-in, as even at five weeks old she is a real handful and can still give a nasty scratch.'
New Shoes !?!
22 August 2013
Here’s a behind the scenes peek at some of the husbandry work we undertake at the park. Our regular farrier (John McInally -07835 849474) was here today to give our Clydesdale, Roxy, a new set of shoes. Roxy gets new shoes every 6-8weeks, Milly and Rosie the donkeys had their hoofs trimmed too. Enjoy the pics.
First Eland Calf.
22 August 2013
First Baby Eland antelope born at Safari park in 25 years
A three week old baby Eland calf has made its first public debut at Blair Drummond Safari Park.
The calf which was born on the 6th August to three year old mum Limba and five year Bud is the first to born at the park for over 25 years.,
Staff have called the female calf Nisbet after Scottish commonwealth high jumper hopeful Jayne Nisbet.
Park manager Gary Gilmour said calf Nisbet is doing really well and she is very lively especially in the mornings, she was a bit of a handful when we first let her out in the main reserve, as she seems to have no fear of other antelope or even the rhinos, but, mum and dad have been keeping a close eye on her and have been keeping her out of trouble,, although she may be a bit small just now, she still has a bit of growing to do and will grow up to 5 feet at her shoulder and can weigh up to 500kg,,although this weight makes eland one of the slowest antelope, they are great high jumpers, with young eland know to jump a fence over 3 metres high from a standstill !!
BIAZA Big Bug Bonanza.
14 August 2013
As part of the Biaza Big Bug Bonanza, we held a native species monitoring event in the newly developing conservation area on Saturday 10th August. We invited along some of our favourite experts who generously gave up their time to help. We’d like to thank Nick Cooke of Community Links for Environmental Action & Regeneration who trapped moths and presented them to our visitors alongside The Butterfly Conservation Trust promotions. Dr. Stewart White (University of Glasgow and Tay Ringing Group) and Dawn, who ran a live bird ringing demonstration throughout the day. And also our thanks to Dean Bricknell www.edenwildlifephotography.co.uk for running a macro-photography workshop and providing some awesome images of the captures.
The day was a great success and it was encouraging to see so many of our visitors expressing an interest towards native species and the conservation work we do here at the park.
We look forward to building on the event and running it again next year.
On the Rhino Register.
09 August 2013
(Angus having a mouth swab)
Our rhinos had their DNA taken today as part of a project by scientists at the Scottish Government who are collating rhino DNA to set up a database to be used by police investigating rhino horn theft.
The illegal trade in rhinoceros horn has become increasingly lucrative in recent years. This is driving not only poaching of wild rhinoceros but also thefts of horns from private collections. More than 50 thefts were reported from European museums, galleries and auction houses in 2011.
Scientists at SASA (Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture) were welcomed at Blair Drummond as they begin to establish a DNA database, in order to help trace the origin of any stolen rhino horn intercepted by the police or customs. The aim of the DEFRA-funded project is to protect exhibits and also live rhinos in zoos from criminal gangs who steal and sell rhino horn.
The National Museum of Scotland took part in a pilot study with SASA which showed that DNA profiles can be produced from museum horns that are over 100 years old.
Scottish Government Environment Minister and PAW Scotland chairman Paul Wheelhouse said:
“The illegal trade in rhino horn has become not only a threat to these magnificent, but sadly very rare animals in the wild but also to our museums and zoos. The work at SASA will help the police to crackdown on the criminals who are beneath contempt and who, seemingly, will stop at nothing to exploit these endangered animals for profit.”
Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) houses a Wildlife DNA Forensics unit which provides DNA analysis for wildlife crime investigations in the UK and beyond. This facility, in addition to carrying out regular casework, aims to develop and validate methodology to meet the needs of UK wildlife crime enforcement. A full forensic validation of DNA profiling for black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) has been carried out at SASA, alongside a pilot study to show that DNA profiles can be produced from museum horns that are over 100 years old.
Green Tourism - Silver Award!
02 August 2013
Blair Drummond Safari Park has been awarded a Silver standard, this is a great improvement on last years bronze. Although the criteria have not changed in the last two years, the GTBS scoring has become more rigorous owing to advancements in technology, increasing awareness and the continuous improvement ethos of the scheme.
Here is a summary of the report:
The commitment shown by staff to sustainable tourism practices has resulted in movement up an award level, which is a great achievement. The most major change since the previous audit is the installation of an excellent new recycling system, which seems to be developing well. This is supported by good waste monitoring, and a food waste scheme is also in development.
Other highlights include good use of recycled paper and plastic products in the restaurant, the sourcing of sustainable fish for animal feed, the development of a new native wildlife area and excellent education and interpretation on conservation issues for visitors.
Stars Out at Blair Drummond.
19 July 2013
We were delighted to welcome some of the cast and crew of the eagerly anticipated British family comedy What We Did on Our Holiday today. Billy Connolly and Annette Crosbie were in the park today shooting on location as they will be doing across Glasgow and the Highlands.
What We Did on Our Holiday stars some of Britain’s best-loved acting talent including Rosamund Pike, David Tennant, Ben Miller and Amelia Bullmore. The film also introduces young rising talent in Harriet Turnbull, Bobby Smalldridge and Emilia Jones in their first feature film roles.
The latest offering from the creators of BBC hit comedy Outnumbered, What We Did on Our Holiday is a heart-warming and uplifting comedy, telling the story of an ordinary family trying to survive in extraordinary circumstances.
Written and directed by the co-creators of Outnumbered, Guy Jenkin and Andy Hamilton, the film is produced by award-winning Producer David M Thompson (Revolutionary Road, Billy Elliot, An Education) alongside Dan Winch in his first Producer role.
Billy Connolly Director and co-creator: Andy Hamilton
Billy Connolly with some of the team.
Doug and Abi are taking their three children on a trip to Scotland for a big family gathering. They are in the midst of a difficult divorce, and have asked the kids to keep it a secret from their extended family. But as the inevitable feuds kick in, a completely unexpected turn of events involving the children causes further tensions to rise to the surface. And with the repercussions that ensue - hilarious and emotional in equal measure - the family are forced to put aside their differences and work together or else risk losing what they hold most dear.
BBC Films Presents an Origin Pictures production in association with Ingenious Media, LipSync and Jim Eyre.
13 July 2013
As the heatwave continues into next week, we thought we’d give you a sneak peak of the ways we help some of our animals stay cool. We make our own special frozen treats to ensure they are safe for the animals, and they are a much welcome addition to the enclosures as temperatures continue to stay high.
Estrella. 1964 - 2013
We are very sad to have to report that Estrella 49, our eldest resident African Elephant had to be put to sleep this morning.
Estrella, or Es as she was known, arrived here in 1997 at the age of 33 from a Spanish Zoo. She had tremendous character and was much loved by staff and visitors. She will be greatly missed.
26 June 2013
Our Sea lions have been lapping up the fame as they help to promote National Recycle Week.
Video cameras from the BBC and STV trained in on our four sea lions - Lola, Poppy, Bali and Bella – as they demonstrated to children and adults how to avoid littering and make green choices like recycling as part of the park’s education programme.
Thanks to support from the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste Scotland programme, the Safari Park now offers 'recycling on the go' to all visitors providing facilities for people to recycle when they are out and about. Visiting the Park during Recycle Week Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
"Recycling is so easy - even a sea lion can do it. You just need to put things in the right place and that's exactly what Blair Drummond’s sea lion quartet show visitors every day. The sea lion show is a great way for kids to learn about recycling and to encourage future generations to make green choices, helping us to look after nature, wildlife and our environment. That’s why during Recycle Week and as we celebrate the Year of Natural Scotland, I'm urging people across the country to recycle more - your efforts really do make a difference and will help to protect our environment and build a better future for us all.”
Richard Lochhead being shown how it's done!
Dave Warren, Education Officer, Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park, said: “It is wonderful to have Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead here. Everyone needs to do their bit to reduce their own environmental impact. If we choose to ignore the scientific research and predictions on the effects of climate change, there will be grave consequences in the not too distant future. That is why it’s absolutely essential that we all recycle as part of greener way of living. The education team and sea lion department are working hard to drive home these very important messages in a fun and engaging way. We are pleased to report a 41 per cent reduction on the amount of waste sent to landfill with a 39 per cent reduction in associated costs over the comparable timeframe for last season and this season so far.”
Iain Gullard, Richard Lochhead and Dave Warren.
Iain Gulland, Director, Zero Waste Scotland, said: “The scheme at Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park is an excellent example of how much can be achieved by making recycling facilities available to visitors. Using education work to reinforce the message will ensure that visitors will continue to recycle once they’ve left the Park.”
Favourite Family Day Out.
26 June 2013
Blair Drummond safari Park picks up two independent awards this spring.
Firstly we WON the 2013 Scottish Entertainment Awards for Scotland’s Favourite Family Day Out. Over 5,000 businesses across Scotland took part in the awards and over 30,000 members of the public voted, venues were further scrutinised by 21 judges!
The award was presented at a very glitzy gala evening, hosted by rising TV star Des Clarke. All nominated businesses were well represented with over 600 guest on the night. Entertainment was in the form of live music by GAMTA, a very lively percussion and horn ensemble, a Mexican band, and the extremely talented ventriloquist, Paul Zerdin. More importantly the evening raised over £10,000 by means of raffle and auction, for the very worthwhile charity CLIC Sargent Scotland - for children with cancer.
Receiving the award was heads of section Ben Houston and Dave Warren who commented; “We are extremely proud to accept this award on behalf of all members staff who work incredibly hard at the park. We’d sincerely like to thank all of you that voted and would like to impress the park is improving all the time, we aim to make it more attractive and best value for families”. More information is available at: entertainmentguideawards.co.uk
Furthermore we are pleased to announce we have received a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence award. The accolade, which honours hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide. Only the top-performing 10 per cent of businesses listed on TripAdvisor receive this prestigious award.
To qualify for a Certificate of Excellence, businesses must maintain an overall rating of four or higher, out of a possible five, as reviewed by travellers on TripAdvisor, and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months. Additional criteria include the volume of reviews received within the last 12 months.
Thank you all very much for your kind words, please be aware that we do read and listen to your comments, we are always striving to make the park better.
A Warm Welcome to Some New Residents.
26 June 2013
As part of a recommendation by the European Endangered Species Programme, Blair Drummond Safari Park is now holding four beautiful Black-and white ruffed lemurs. The all sister group, aged 14, arrived from Colchester Zoo last week and have been settling into our Lemur land nicely. Lemur keeper Claire told us “The girls are great. I’m very excited to be working with them and can’t wait to get to know them all a bit better, they look brilliant in the section and explore right to the tops of the trees”. Tia, Mia, Ziggy and Anya can be spotted in the walk through section, they are slowly but surely making friends with our Ringtailed and Common brown lemurs. Also new to Lemur Land, as part of a European Endangered Species Programme recommendation is Manja, a stunning 10 year old Red ruffed lemur who is getting along famously with Red, our male.
We have also acted on a further recommendation by the European Studbook and brought in two Greater Kudu. They are a reasonably young breeding pair; the male Bisho, was born in 2011 and came from a French zoo. He is now paired with Zaila, a 2012 female who came from the Netherlands.
Greater Kudu are native to East and Southern Africa, they are a beautiful woodland Antelope, males weigh up to 300 kg and stand up to 1.6m at the shoulder. We have been working hard to ensure they are closely bonded and gradually introduced to our drive through reserve.
We also are celebrating the birth of twin Common marmosets, these babies can be spotted clinging tightly to both Mum and Dad’s back as they roam freely around the Pets Farm department. Growing up fast is our Meerkat kit, he is 8 weeks now and getting quite energetic in the enclosure. His older brothers and sisters look after him but are somewhat eclipsed by his cuteness!
HRH The Princess Royal Opens Elephant Habitat
19 April 2013
All the staff at Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park, near Stirling, Scotland, are extremely proud to welcome Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to officially open their brand new Elephant Habitat that they have been developing for the last 5 years. The new habitat will be home to their 3 elderly female African elephants that have been resident at the safari park since 1997. Blair Drummond Safari Park is considered as one of the best facilities in Europe for housing problematic female elephants that have had difficulty socialising and integrating with other elephants at their previous homes.
Blair Drummond is dedicated to their essential role as a retirement facility for dysfunctional elephants and they strive to offer the highest standard of care and welfare for these high maintenance individuals. In order for them to fulfil this role they have undertaken their largest ever construction project in their 43 year history.
The concept for the design has involved international expert consultants and elephant managers from several different BIAZA collections. The design has been developed and evolved over the past 5 years with construction taking in excess of 18 months to make sure that it meets all the highly demanding needs of Estrella (49), Mondula (42) and Toto (43). All work was undertaken by local businesses and trades people, with the living area for the elephants being developed and built in-house by the parks own highly skilled engineer.
The habitat has been designed to encourage the elephants a far greater range of decision making in their daily lives while keeping them in the best possible physical and mental health. Everything within the habitat has been carefully designed and developed to allow all natural behaviours to be displayed by each elephant. Some of the innovations range from a £20,000 bespoke state of the art computer controlled feeding system that provides the elephants with access to food over a 24 hour period but with rations being delivered at random intervals to encourage them to mimic natural foraging behaviours. This system is already being adopted by other elephant collections due to its ground breaking design. There is nearly 500 tons of specialist silica sand substrate with each grain selected to be no more than 0.5mm in diameter to prevent it compacting and to allow the elephant a soft, natural floor to interact with and mould to the shape of their bodies to allow a more comfortable nights sleep. The indoor habitat has 3 low-light behaviour recording cameras so their night time activity can be carefully monitored by the parks research staff. The £40,000 remote control gate system allows the keepers to safely move the elephants about the habitat without having to be in put at any potential risk, with the hydraulic oil being vegetable based to prevent any health issues if it is accidently ingested by any of the 3 residents.
The keeping staff and head vet are able to gain full and safe access to each elephant in the protected contact husbandry area, in which the elephants can cooperate with the team on a voluntary basis. The elephants even have their own shower room and set of scales within the premises!
To help reduce environmental impact a majority of the required steel work has been recycled from the old elephant accommodation and all timber used has been grown on Blair Drummond Estate. The whole building is insulated from foundation level right up to the roof and a climate controlled under floor heating system will keep the building at a minimum of 16 degrees Celsius all year round regardless of the weather outside. A huge emphasis has been placed on having as much natural materials as possible for the elephants within the building with a majority of the internal walls having been constructed from native Scottish trees.The new habitat allows the elephants 24 hour access to their two and a half acre outdoor area all year round which includes mud wallows, fresh grazing, earth mounds to climb on and various natural objects for them to interact with and increase the amount of exercise that they get each day.
The public have been provided with an indoor viewing area, overlooking the whole of the indoor habitat that is now open to all visitors to the park. Regardless of the weather visitors are invited to come and spend time observing three of the parks most loved individuals as they go about their daily lives.
MIGRANTS, HEBREWS AND QUAKERS, MOST WELCOME
18 April 2013
As part of our Native Species Monitoring Programme, we were delighted to welcome back some migratory birds from their travels. There was much excitement at 05:30 on Friday morning as three Willow warblers fluttered gently into our nets; we rang these birds back in 2012, and against all odds, they managed to safely return from Africa on their annual migration. They will stay here for the summer, in which time they will moult and hopefully breed before returning to Africa. The record for an annual re-trap Willow warbler is eleven times! It’s amazing to think that a bird that weighs just over nine grams (equivalent to just over half a digestive biscuit!) had flown 11 times to Africa. The Willow warblers are amongst some of the many different bird species we have caught, including; Yellow Hammers, Black Caps, Kingfishers, Bramblings, Treecreepers, Common Crossbill Reed Bunting, bullfinch, Song Thrush and Greenfinch.
We were further pleased to run our first moth trap in the newly developing bugland (an area we are developing specifically to demonstrate how easy and beneficial it is to attract insects and wildlife). Despite the fact the exhibit is not yet finished, it is important to monitor throughout it’s development. Our two traps revealed a total of 50 captures of four different species of moths; Hebrew Character, Small Quaker, Common Quaker and Clouded Drab.
Skinners moth trap and Hebrew character moth.
Chimp Herb Garden
14 March 2013
Education Assistant Kirsty helps to build the chimps their very own garden!
Head Keeper Alasdair Gillies explains; “While clearly we are not giving the chimps a potting shed and a copy of Alan Titchmarsh’s latest gardening guide there is a serious purpose to the project.” he said.
Many studies have shown that in the wild chimpanzees often ingest plants in order to “self medicate”. It is over 30 years since Michael Huffman of Kyoto University noticed that chimpanzees in captivity often suffered from intestinal problems caused by parasites that their wild counterparts seemed to largely avoid. He witnessed that the wild apes often sucked the leaves of the Bitter Leaf Plant when they were ill. The plant has no real nutritious value, but after using it the animals seemed to recover. Huffman consulted a traditional healer who informed him that the plants the chimps were using were the same ones the local people often used for similar complaints. Further studies have shown chimps using nettle like plants to clean their intestines of parasitic worms. The fine hairs on the leaves of the plant appear to scrape the intruders from the gut wall.
Growing the correct type of plants will play an important role in their everyday lives.
“Chimps LOVE strong tasting foods” said Mr Gillies “and it is not uncommon for our guys to eat lemons, garlic and even chillis for pleasure, especially Chippie, the leader of the troop.”
So in order to indulge them the keepers at Blair Drummond have designed a “herb garden” for the chimps to use. It consists of a mesh frame concreted into the ground that the plants grow through allowing the chimps to crop them without destroying the roots so the plants continue to grow.
“This is the latest part of an ongoing project to encourage the chimps to forage for their own food growing on the island.” explained Mr Gillies, “We have already planted a variety of berry bushes which the chimps love. I think we will go for fruit trees and some vegetables next.”
Renowned animal behaviourist and primatologist Prof. Hannah Buchanan-Smith from the University of Stirling adds “Encouraging the Blair Drummond chimpanzees to forage for food growing on the island provides them with choice and control over what and when to eat, which is likely to be good for their welfare”.
Play Talk Read
14 March 2013
PlayTalkRead goes wild at Blair Drummond
- Grrrreat new partnership encourages mums, dads & tots to have fun from day one -
Mums, dads and their little ones are encouraged to go wild and participate in PlayTalkRead’s 30 Wild Things to do Before You’re 3 at Blair Drummond – a big list of simple, outdoor fun, which allows tots to learn about wildlife and explore nature in the Year of Natural Scotland.
From roaring like lion and jumping like a joey to perching like an owl, the new wish-list encourages kids to embrace their inner tiger, so get stuck in and start ticking items off the checklist of unmissable experiences before their early years are over. Supporting the Scottish Government’s PlayTalkRead campaign, the list champions the early years (0-3) as a golden opportunity for mums and dads to play, talk and read with their kids more often to give them the best start in life.
We've designed some special, hands-on activities, which allow you to learn interesting facts about the animal world. Tots can see how the strength of their grip measures up to that of a chimp or track the sound of their own roar in decibels.
Dave Warren, Education Officer at Blair Drummond, recognises that it’s these simple, fun activities that make all the difference in the long-term. He says: “At Blair Drummond we know the importance of providing fun, family-friendly activities so that parents can interact with their children. It’s safe to say all children who come here are fascinated by our animals and the natural world. Our partnership with the PlayTalkRead campaign gives families who visit us a chance to learn more about nature and wildlife through playing, talking and reading together. We often take for granted how important these moments of simple parenting interactions are, and how also a simple message or deft moment can inspire young minds - they really do make a huge difference in the long term.”
Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children & Young People, said: “We can never underestimate the power of play and the important role it plays in the long-term development of our wee ones. The new 30 Wild Things to do Before You’re 3 at Blair Drummond list we’ve created with Blair Drummond offers some really fun, inspiring new ways to have fun together while learning about the great outdoors and meeting some magnificent animals at the same time. As a mum I can’t wait to get down to the park and tick some activities off the list.”
The full 30 Wild Things to do Before You’re 3 at Blair Drummond list is available to download from the PlayTalkRead website.
'Perch like an owl'