Penguins, Pandas, Poo and Spin

At the beginning of the year, Edinburgh Zoo had a bit of a public relations meltdown, to put it mildly. Their staff were unhappy, senior management were being accused of serious crimes, and even the news that they’d got pandas wasn’t working the magic touch they hoped for.

Gary Wilson designed Rainbow Landings, a popular exhibit which brought in a significant amount of revenue. It was free to walk through the enclosure and watch the flock of rainbow lorikeets, the honey eaters, and the potoroos: and little tubs of nectar to feed the birds cost £1 – and who can resist having a beautiful bird fearlessly perching on your hand? But apparently, Mr Wilson forgot that birds produce crap. Lots of crap. He designed Rainbow Landings without drains in the concrete floor. So every morning, before the exhibit could be opened to the public, keepers had to shovel all the guano into sacks and physically carry it out of the building. And it had to close permanently last year.

The panda enclosure (for which Edinburgh Zoo forgot to get planning permission) was built where Mercedes the polar bear used to live, not far from the penguin enclosure. The path on which visitors to see the pandas have to queue, runs right by the Rockhopper penguin enclosure. And it appears that Gary Wilson, once again, forgot that birds crap: the visitors are getting shat on:

A 41-year-old, who was standing in the panda queue on Sunday said: “We were queuing to see the pandas when a man in front shouted out in surprise that his jacket had been hit by a big dollop of penguin poo. It just missed me and my family and it was really oily and stank of fish. It was disgusting. It looked like it would be really hard to clean off. It was quite funny but the zoo should do something so it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Have to admit, though, they’ve done a much better job of spinning this than they were doing a year ago.

The penguins used to be the most popular attraction at Edinburgh Zoo, but they have been knocked off their perch by the arrival of Sunshine and Sweetie, the giant pandas from China.

It appears they have been taking their revenge and it is the visitors queuing to see the pandas who are suffering.

Glass walls are going up around that part of the penguin enclosure – but really, Gary Wilson may be the director of business operations and not a keeper, but if he’s responsible for enclosure design, someone should grind it into his head that everyone poops – watch the video:

I love Edinburgh Zoo, though. I love it that the keepers have come up with a Christmas present wish list for their animals: penguins love chasing bubbles and bright reflections, so

Top of their Christmas list would be bubble machines, or CDs and DVDs for keepers to string up. ….

If granny’s knitting isn’t quite to size, or you’ve had one too many festive jumpers adorned with snowmen and reindeer, spare a thought for our chimpanzees and other primates who love to use them as snuggle blankets, or just generally tare them to shreds – however the mood takes them! In particular, our Sun bear brothers love boomer balls, the larger the better, and rubber Kong chew toys.

Non-toxic paint, canvasses and brushes even go down well with our macaws who love to get creative, and our parrots, who love the noise, can offer you a new home for discarded baby rattles.

Old newspapers, telephone directories or any cardboard tubes, ropes of natural material and of course your ex-Christmas tree, would all be welcome. Get in touch with the Edinburgh Zoo Enrichment Team on, before sending the items in.



Filed under Edinburgh Zoo

2 responses to “Penguins, Pandas, Poo and Spin

  1. M - Edinburgh

    Sorry to poo on the party (ahem), but I think the panda enclosure was built on the old gorilla one, not the polar bear one. The sun bears are where Mercedes was. Either way, flying pandas around in planes makes me feel sick. We’re not such a gentle race. Perhaps we should take pointers from them.

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