Science Summer School 2013 – New Mums depend on each other

summer school week 1 2013

From July 29th to August 9th RZSS Edinburgh Zoo runs a Science Summer School for teenagers aged 16-18 yrs. It is a week long introductory course into zoo and wildlife sciences.

Last week some of our students were observing our two new mothers in the West enclosure. Both Santi and Lana have recently had babies. The students were investigating who the group would spend more time with. Lana (the alpha female) and her baby or Santi and her baby (the newer baby). They found that the two mothers spent the most time together and the rest of the group and Diego the alpha male spent equal amounts of time with both the mothers.

Our students concluded that this result is very similar to human mothers who like spend time together bonding over the daily gripes of raising babies.

photo by kirsty banner





Photo by : Kirsty Cheyne

Living Links to Life Long Learning – U3A Study Day

On the 5th of June, University of the Third Age (U3A) members from across Scotland came to their third annual study day here in Edinburgh Zoo. The theme for this year was Primatology.

With so many amazing projects happening at Budongo Trail and Living Links we felt this was an ideal opportunity for our researchers to engage with life-long learners.

The conference was set in the Budongo Trail Lecture Theatre and included a keynote speech from Professor Andy Whiten, presentations from our current PhD students, and Dr Katie Slocombe gave the delegates a live demonstration of how we study chimpanzee communication.

chimp com bannerOur guests also had a chance to explore the two enclosures with many of our staff, eoin discusses researchvolunteers and researchers on hand to answer questions.

Click here to see the full programme of the day’s events.


Linking to the Curriculum

On Friday April 26th we had 23 science teachers from over 15 different Scottish Secondary schools come to the zoo to take part in a teacher training day.

The day’s events included training with two of our resource packs, Measuring Behaviour and Chimpanzee and Human Chromosomes. In the chromosome activity the teachers had a chance to compare the differences and similarities in the chromosomes of humans and chimpanzees, these resources are ideal for teaching students about genetic deletions, mutations and inversions.

c and h activity






In the Measuring Behaviour workshop they received an overview of how to study primate behaviour then went out into the zoo to study our primates themselves.

mb activity





We got some fantastic feedback from the day and the teachers are very excited to start using our resources in their classrooms. In the future we hope to offer another training day for our other two resource packs; Working with Scientific Literature and Primate Communication.

Reconstructing the Evolution of Cognition – Free Lecture

dr josep call





St Andrew’s University is delighted to announce that Dr Josep Call will be presenting the Irvine Memorial Medal Lecture on Friday the 8th of March 2013 at 5:15pm in School III, St Salvador’s Quad, St Andrews University.

All are welcome to attend this free lecture.

Dr Josep Call the Director of the Wolfgang Kohler Primate Research Centre, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig will be presenting on what makes us human and how has our cognition evolved. To explore these concepts Dr Call compares the behaviour and cognition of multiple species taking into account their evolutionary relationships and ecologies in order to enlighten us on how and why humans have evolved the way we have.

Busy Days at Living Links

Over the past 2 weeks the Living Links team has had some busy days with visitors.

On Sunday the 23rd of September we had the St Andrews University PsychSoc visit Budongo and Living Links. They received an intro talk from Prof Andy Whiten and had guided tours from the Budongo keepers and Living Links research staff. They even had a chance to see a live demonstration of Mark Bowler and Emily Messer’s research into fur rubbing with capuchin monkeys.

Monkey Medicine – A mini- documentary about fur rubbing can be viewed at

Then on Monday evening of the 24th of September delegates from the Animal Concepts Conference entitled Animal Welfare: Emotion, Cognition and Behaviour enjoyed two ‘talkettes’ by Prof Andy Whiten, one an introduction to the Living Links/Budongo Consortium and the other on primate minds.

The delegates also received tours of both facilities and enjoyed a brief photo shoot in the rain at our Primate Family Tree.

Also as part of the Animal Concepts conference Dr Alex Weiss of our Living Links board gave a talk on animal personality and welfare.

To view some of Dr.Weiss’s work on personality, visit the website below

Finally, yesterday our Living Links Team presented a variety of talks to the RZSS Adult Class and again they received tours of our facilities, including a visit to the thick billed parrots with Dr Amanda Seed to see our birds partake in some cognitive research.

66.6666666…% of the Festival of the Spoken Nerd visit Living Links.

Fresh from their recent run at the Edinburgh Fringe ‘Festival of the Spoken Nerd’ musical comedian Helen Arney and stand-up mathematician Matt Parker take time out to visit Living Links and pose in our ‘Primate Family Tree’ mural. We also twisted their arms to record something suitable for the young audience that gathered!

See Helen in ‘Voice of an Angle’ at the Underbelly, Edinburgh now until 26th August.

Date for your diary – free public lecture in Edinburgh from the Physiological Society

Poster: Physiological Society Lecture

by Professor Gareth Leng. Discover how your brain helps you to bond with babies and lovers, and probe the mind of one of Edinburgh’s leading neuroscientists

18.30, Tuesday 3 July, Edinburgh International Conference Centre The Exchange, Edinburgh, EH3 8EE

Visitor day and seminar…

Living Links “Twenty-first Century Research Associated with Twenty-first Century Zoos”

Visitor Day and Seminar, Living Links and Budongo Trail, Edinburgh Zoo

This event was occasioned by a visit of the eminent primatologist Dr Josep Call, Scientific Director of the Wolfgang Köhler Primate Research Centre, Max Planck Institute and Leipzig Zoo, and Professor Neville Richardson, Master of the United College, University of St. Andrews.

Talks took place in the Budongo Lecture Theatre with overviews of research in Living Links, Budongo-Edinburgh and the Budongo Conservation Field Station in Uganda, by Professor Andrew Whiten, Dr Katie Slocombe and Dr Cat Hobaiter.

These were followed by a headline talk on research in the Köhler Centre, Leipzig Zoo. Dr Josep Call.