The pitter patter of little hooves can be heard galloping in the main drive-through reserve of the Highland Wildlife Park. European bison calves, Himalayan tahr lambs, a Przewalski's horse foal and red deer calves were all welcome additions to the Park over spring and summer.
There were big births from Europe's largest land mammal, the European bison, as three calves were born into the herd - one female was born in April 2014, then one male and one female were born in May 2014. Each bison calf is a precious addition to the species which became extinct in the wild in 1927. The Park has been breeding this species since 1972 and in June 2014 a female named Glen Rosa, who was born at the Park in 2012, was released into a wild herd as part of a reintroduction project in Romania.
Other births include a set of twin Himalayan tahrs. These two were joined by another three lambs which arrived later in the month bringing the herd's size up to eighteen. Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, Himalayan tahr can live in groups of up to 30 individuals in their native habitat which extends primarily across the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal, with smaller numbers in Bhutan and India.
On 2 August, one of our four adult female Przewalski's horses gave birth to a sprightly filly. Like the bison above, this is a species that also became extinct in the wild. It has since been reintroduced back to its former home in Mongolia and China; a reintroduction program which the Park has been involved with since 1971.
Finally, the even larger red deer herd - 46 to be exact - welcomed the first of 16 new calves in late spring with the latest new arrival being born on 30 June. Unlike most of the other species in the Park, there is a completely hands-off policy with the red deer and they are managed as a wild herd.
Douglas Richardson, Head of Living Collections for the Highland Wildlife Park, comments:
"Because of the size and nature of the enclosures for these animals, we are able to maintain them in herds that mirror the wild. The annual crop of these babies is very gratifying for the animal staff as this level of success is a testament to the quality of their care. Visitors are able to observe the natural behaviours of this mix of rare and unusual hoofed animals from the comfort of their car in the main reserve, a unique wildlife viewing experience.
Big births of little hooves
Date: Friday 5 September 2014
Where: Highland Wildlife Park, Kincraig, Kingussie, Inverness-shire PH21 1NL
(Please arrive by the service road)
Notes to editors
Highland Wildlife Park is currently home to 19 European bison, including 16 females and three males
The bison live in the 65 acre (26 hectare) main drive-through reserve, along with the Park's herds of red deer and Przewalski's horses
It is tradition at the Park to name all bison born on site after Scottish glens
European bison were hunted heavily in the 19th century and then were decimated after the First World War when many were killed by troops and poachers. The last wild-roaming bison was shot in the Caucasus mountains in 1927.
Luckily, a number were kept in zoos and a coordinated approach to their management was started in 1923, with the first captive-bred bison reintroduced back into the wild in 1952. Reintroductions continue and in 2012, the total wild population had risen to over 3,000. The bison is not out of the woods yet, but work is continuing to save this magnificent beast for future generations.
Highland Wildlife Park has eighteen Himalayan tahr: six males and 12 females, including the five calves born in June 2014.
The young tahr is reliant on its mother's milk for the first few months after which it can graze on the same food as its parents. Mothers care for their young until they are two years old; males then begin to leave while females remain in the maternal herd
The Himalayan tahr is currently listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The challenges this species faces include habitat loss due to expanding human population, competition from domesticated sheep and goats, over-hunting and military conflicts. There is a large introduced population in New Zealand which may prove to be of real conservation value if the natural population continues to decline.
The Park is ideally suited to these impressive animals with a vast 80 acres of open moor and hillside allowing this herd to roam as they would in the wild.
Britain's largest land mammal, Scottish red deer were once woodland creatures, but due to habitat loss created by forest clearance, these majestic animals have adapted to life in the Highlands on open moorland
These animals take their name from their reddish coloured coats which are short in summer but grow darker in colour, and thicker in winter to insulate them from the severe conditions of the high open grounds in which the live.
With the rut due to start in a month, the dynamic of the herd changes with the males actively competing for dominance and mating rights.
About the Highland Wildlife Park
The Highland Wildlife Park is owned by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), a registered charity, charity no SC004064. For further information on all our conservation projects and events, please visit our websites www.highlandwildlifepark.org
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The Highland Wildlife Park specialises in Scottish species, past and present, and other cold weather adapted animals from around the world.
In June 2012 the Highland Wildlife Park celebrated its 40th anniversary. Opened in 1972, the Park covers over 200 acres and is located within the Cairngorms National Park.
The Highland Wildlife Park is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA). BIAZA represents its member collections and promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums. For further information please telephone 020 7449 6351.
For further information please contact:
Amanda Dunbar, PR Coordinator at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland on 0131 314 0383 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachel Goddard, PR Manager at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland on 0131 314 0312 or email@example.com