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Scotland Magazine News - RZSS Wins at BIAZA Awards

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Thu 29 Nov 2012

RZSS Wins at BIAZA Awards

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), the charity that owns and operates Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park, has won an award and a highly coveted commendation at the prestigious 2012 British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) Awards.

Dr Miranda Stevenson, Director of BIAZA said:

“The BIAZA 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.”

RZSS won top award in the category of conservation breeding for Polynesian tree snails – also known as the Partula snail. As well as this, RZSS was highly commended in recognition of the ground-breaking work on significant advances in zoo and wildlife medicine; primarily, the welfare advantages of keyhole surgery in Asiatic black bears rescued from illegal bile framing in Cambodia and Vietnam – a procedure pioneered by one of Edinburgh Zoo’s veterinarians, Dr Romain Pizzi.

Darren McGarry, Head of Animals at Edinburgh Zoo, said:

“I’m delighted that we have been awarded this fantastic accolade for conservation breeding – as a conservation charity, this is at the very core of what we stand for. It’s a huge achievement for all of us and I’m truly thrilled. We’ve also the doubly good news of receiving a commendation for our veterinary efforts as well. RZSS has a very talented veterinary team who are dedicated to providing the best healthcare possible. It’s wonderful that our work has been recognised by BIAZA.”

Winning the award for conservation breeding particularly highlights the lesser known on-going conservation work that RZSS carries out; in this case the fascinating conservation story of the small, but incredibly rare, Polynesian tree snail or Partula snail. This particular species is part of a group of very rare snails found in French Polynesia – a group of islands in the South Pacific.

Hidden away in a small off-show area of Edinburgh Zoo, due to the very specific conditions they require in order to survive and thrive, is a collection of tiny 20mm long exotic snails. Although they may not be particularly exciting to look at, some varieties of this species are completely extinct in the wild. As part of an international breeding programme, Edinburgh Zoo’s conservation experts have had such success in getting their collection of Partula snails to breed, increasing some varieties of the species from just two to over 40!

As well as this, RZSS were also awarded a commendation for ground-breaking work on significant advances in zoo and wildlife medicine. The welfare advantages of keyhole surgery in Asiatic black bears rescued from illegal bile farming was pioneered by Dr Romain Pizzi, a member of the vet team at RZSS. This revolutionary procedure sees the removal of diseased gallbladders in bears using keyhole surgery instead of open abdominal surgery, reducing the discomfort and recovery time of the animal from four to six weeks to a matter of days.

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