29 April 2014
Best-selling author Alexander McCall Smith was guest of honour at the opening of Edinburgh Zoo's new meerkat plaza. ...
Best-selling author and Edinburgh resident Alexander McCall Smith was guest of honour at the opening of Edinburgh Zoo's new meerkat plaza.
The author, who wrote The No1 Ladies Detective Agency series visited the zoo for an African-themed opening ceremony at which he read a selection of his works to invited guests, who were treated to African music and African-themed face-painting at the front reception. This was followed by a private screening of 'Meerkats: The Movie' at the Budongo Lecture Theatre, which was scripted by Alexander McCall Smith, created by BBC Films and The Weinstein Company, and narrated by the late Paul Newman.
Edinburgh Zoo's new meerkat enclosure is located at the entrance to the Zoo and replaces the old sea lion enclosure. The Zoo’s group of meerkats have moved into their new digs, which features sanded areas for digging, large rock features, caves, heat pads and a meerkat house. Visitors can come face to face with the charismatic creatures with 20 metres of glass panelling running along the front.
Four large wooden meerkat benches featuring hand-crafted meerkat carvings, created by a local chainsaw artist Iain Chalmers take pride of place in the middle of the plaza.
Chris West, Chief Executive Officer for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, which owns and operates Edinburgh Zoo, said: 'It was a great delight to be joined by Alexander McCall Smith for the grand opening of our new meerkat enclosure and welcome plaza. It seemed only fitting to have one of Edinburgh’s best-loved writers who specialises in African-themed stories to assist in launching Edinburgh Zoo’s newest enclosure.
'Meerkats are extremely charismatic and inquisitive animals, making them extremely popular with our visitors. They will even hold eye contact, which makes it hard not to love them. The new enclosure gives visitors an opportunity to see more of our family group as well as provide the meerkats themselves with a large natural enclosure to explore, while the welcome plaza offers visitors improved orientation signage as well as space for keeper talks and animal handling sessions.'
Edinburgh Zoo, 134 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh EH12 6TS; visit the website.