Friday, 23 December 2011

Review of 2011 - part 1

To round up this years posts I will review the year at Bristol. This has been a major anniversary for us, as Bristol is the fifth oldest zoo in the world in continuous operation, and the oldest outside a capital city. From the start Bristol has pioneered many exhibit styles, and has majored in zoo education, research, and public service, so even if a visitor may see larger versions in other zoos, there is a good chance we were at least early adopters if not originators. For example, we were among the first to have a reversed photoperiod nocturnal house and walk-though aquarium tunnel (admittedly the latter is very small compared to more recent versions as it was created before modern acrylics came into use).

The year got off to a very good start with the birth of two lion cubs, Jasleen and Kaylara, to our pair of Asiatic lions. The cubs were born on Christmas Eve 201, but did not go on show for a few weeks until they had had their vaccinations (lions are susceptible to the same diseases as domestic cats). The cubs are now a year old and Jasleen (the male) is already beginning to get his mane. The cubs will probably stay at Bristol next year, before being moved to other collections to become parents in their turn.

In February the new Meerkat exhibit opened. This has proved very popular with visitors and with the Meerkats themselves, who have already produced several offspring. Also in February another tapir calf was born. This was the seventh calf our female Tamang has produced, and as she has produced more than enough offspring the male Denzil has now been moved to another collection. At present we have the adult female Tamang, her previous calf ( also a female) and young Roger on show.

In March, the zoo released its illustrated history (on sale at the zoo shop) with photos from bygone years at Bristol Zoo, including the famous TV presenter Johny Morris. We also put up photos of bygone years at the zoo, of which the most moving I find is a photo of injured troops on leave attending a concert on the lawn outside the main central buildings.

In April, plaques for a Walk of Fame were installed around the zoo. Produced by the famous Bristol Blue Glass works in the city, they commemorate famous Bristolians, from the notorious pirate Blackbeard to the late actor Cary Grant and the equally famous street artist Banksy.

In May, children from Fair Furlong Primary school came to plant their edible garden they have designed. Mike Crook, Bristol in Bloom Chairman, said: “From 75 entries Fair Furlong Primary was picked as the winner due to their interesting and well laid out design.” Eddie Mole, Head of Horticulture Gardens, said:“Their chosen produce consists of strawberries, courgettes, sunflowers and green beans plus a host of herbs which are easy to harvest as well as being aesthetically pleasing and great food for the animals.”

He added: “The competition is now in its third year and this time, our on-site catering team specified the plant list so that some of the produce can be used in the kitchens. The chef’s will be able to pick fresh, seasonal herbs to use in their daily cooking.”

Also in May, a baby sloth was born to our old female Light Cap in Twilight world. Unfortunately, he has had to be hand reared, but has done very well and is now on solid food like his parents. Perhaps inevitably, he has been named Sid.

The big event in June was a second set of twins for our Golden Lion Tamarins. After several unsuccessful years, we now have a nice family group of these beautiful monkeys – I will be doing a full post on them in 2012.

Also in June a male Red Panda finally arrived to join our solitary female Jasmina. After having to wait for a suitable match, Sir Ed arrived all the way from New Zealand and has settled in well in good time for the 2012 breeding season. With luck, we will have cubs next year.

Next time – the second half of 2012!

(Images from the Bristol Zoo website)

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