Highland Wildlife Park

The Highland Wildlife Park is a 105-hectare (260-acre) safari park and zoo near Kingussie, Highland, Scotland. The park is located within the Cairngorms National Park. The park is run by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).

Highland Wildlife Park
Logo of Highland Wildlife Park.svg
Date opened1972
LocationKingussie, Scotland
Coordinates57°6′40″N 3°58′29″W / 57.11111°N 3.97472°W / 57.11111; -3.97472Coordinates: 57°6′40″N 3°58′29″W / 57.11111°N 3.97472°W / 57.11111; -3.97472
Land area105 hectares (260 acres)[1]
No. of animals300+[1]
No. of species~60[1]
Annual visitors142,000 (2019)[2]
MembershipsBIAZA,[3] EAZA[4]
Major exhibitsNative Scottish wildlife


The Highland Wildlife Park was opened in 1972 and has been run by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (which also operates the Edinburgh Zoo) since 1986. With the exception of Christmas Day, the park is open every day of the year, weather permitting.[1][5]

In 1980 the park was made famous by obtaining "Felicity the Puma", a puma that was reputedly captured nearby by a farmer. The puma lived out her days in the park and is now on show stuffed in the Inverness Museum.[6] In the past the park has also been the home to several examples of the famous "Kellas cat".[citation needed]

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, owner and administrator of the Highland Wildlife Park, altered the theme of the park in 2007 from native species of the Highlands, to species from tundra and mountainous habitats around the world. This move is an attempt to bring the park closer to the working practices of the RZSS's main site, Edinburgh Zoo as well as to increase visitor numbers which had been virtually static for some years.

Although the park was in need of serious investment for some years, many locals to the area as well as frequent visitors believe that this move would distance the park from its hitherto unique attraction as a place to see native species in their natural habitat, and will eventually turn the park into another safari park filled with ever more exotic animals in an attempt to attract more of the area's visitors.

In response to this view, the RZSS claims that the new animals in the park's collection are for the most part extremely endangered, and their presence at the park will help safeguard their future, as well as demonstrating the Highlands' place in the global ecosystem.

However, critics said that many of the animals which were lost in the first wave of alterations (badgers, red foxes, Soay sheep, Highland cattle, polecat) may not have been endangered in the Highlands, but were the kinds of animals that visitors associate with the Highlands and would be extremely lucky to have seen in person during their stay.

The first animals to arrive were two bharals in February 2007, closely followed by markhor and yak at Easter. Kiang followed and the first Japanese macaques came at the end of June 2007.

In 2008, Bactrian wapiti, Chinese grey goral, Mishmi takin, red panda, Himalayan tahr, Carpathian lynx, Afghan urial, European elk arrived, some coming from Edinburgh Zoo.[citation needed]

2008 also saw the arrival of a purpose-built aviary for Himalayan snowcock. The park also had several Mishmi takin, kiang, markhor, and urial births.[citation needed]

The new Amur tiger enclosure has opened at the park, costing £400,000. It is now home to a pair of tigers, Sasha and Yuri a proven breeding pair from Edinburgh zoo. On 11 May, three cubs were born and are now taking their first steps into the main enclosure under the watchful eye of mum Sasha.[citation needed] Births in 2009 also include first breedings at the park for European elk and Himalayan tahr.[citation needed]

A new exhibit for a pair of European wolves opened in 2011 as well as a new exhibit for Pallas cats. A bachelor herd of vicuna arrived from Edinburgh Zoo. European cranes also arrived.[citation needed] The Pallas cats have bred, raising 3 kittens. There are new aviaries for snowy and great grey owls. Two female musk ox have arrived at the park from the Netherlands, they are a mother/daughter pair and are the first musk ox imported into the UK in over 20 years.

Five female white-lipped deer have arrived at the park from the Edinburgh Zoo, these are the only females of their species in the UK. A new enclosure for European forest reindeer has been built next to the European wolves. A new male polar bear and male Amur tiger arrived at the park. Five European wolves a Japanese serow and two northern lynx were born in 2012 a male musk ox arrived from Sweden, two red pandas also joined the collection. A new Chinese grey goral enclosure has been constructed; their former enclosure is being developed for wolverine. Wolverine have arrived and recent births (June 2013) include the park's first great grey owl, white-lipped deer, red panda and musk oxen along with Turkmenian markhor, European lynx, Amur tiger, Bactrian wapiti, and Mishmi takin. In 2014, a female European bison was returned for reintroduction to Romania, amongst the births at the park were 6 Pallas cat kittens, two female mishmi takin[7] and a first hatching of satyr tragopan for the park. Summer 2014 saw the start of construction of a new enclosure for a sourced female polar bear that will be arriving at the park in spring 2015. It was confirmed in October 2014 that snow leopard and Amur leopard would arrive at the park in 2015. The last bharal and Japanese serow left the collection in 2014.

2015 saw the arrival of a female polar bear from Aalborg Zoo in Denmark, kept in a specially-built enclosure behind the musk oxen, where there is a sub enclosure for a male that has been introduced to her. In 2018 a resulting polar bear cub was born at the wildlife park.

The park's first snow leopards have arrived from Marwell and Krefeld zoos and have been released into a cliff face enclosure, next to the markhor. April 2016 saw the first birth at the park and in Scotland of twin wolverine kits. 2016 also saw the last of the eastern kiang herd transferred to Knowsley safari park. A male European forest reindeer was born in June and the park has welcomed its first Amur leopard, housed in an offshow breeding unit, located at the rear of the park. The offshow pair of Amur leopards produced a pair of twins in summer 2018. The first polar bear to be born in the UK for 25 years arrived at the end of 2017 The week before Christmas the female polar bear Victoria gave birth to a male to be called Hamish The park also had their first European crane and snow leopards born in 2019.


Visitors experience Scottish wildlife past and present in the setting of the Scottish Highlands. On show are a variety of animals found in present-day Scotland, animals that were once present, hundreds, even thousands of years ago, and mountainous regions all over the globe. Visitors drive around the Main Reserve in their cars and then move on to a walk-round area.


Main Reserve (Safari Park)Edit

The park has won awards for its wolf enclosure
Female Turkmenian markhor at the Wildlife Park

Walk-round enclosuresEdit

A young Japanese macaque, part of the colony at the Park.

The futureEdit

A study is currently in progress, looking at expanding the park both in acreage and species kept.


  1. ^ a b c d "Highland Wildlife Park". goodzoos.com. GoodZoos. Archived from the original on 9 September 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  2. ^ "ALVA - Association of Leading Visitor Attractions". alva.org.uk. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  3. ^ "BIAZA Zoos and Aquariums". biaza.org.uk. BIAZA. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  4. ^ "EAZA Member Zoos & Aquariums". eaza.net. EAZA. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  5. ^ "About Us". highlandwildlifepark.org. Highland Wildlife Park. Archived from the original on 2 June 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  6. ^ "Felicity the puma". scotcats.online.fr. The Scottish Big Cat Trust. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  7. ^ "HWP 2014 [Highland Wildlife Park]".
  8. ^ "Amur tiger Sasha put down at Highland Wildlife Park". BBC News. 14 March 2012.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Highland Wildlife Park at Wikimedia Commons