The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland was founded in 1909, by an Edinburgh lawyer Thomas Gillespie. A visionary and enthusiast for animals and wildlife, in only four years he garnered sufficient support and funding to enable the Society to buy an 85 acre site to the west of Edinburgh, for £17,000 with help from the City of Edinburgh Council.
Edinburgh Zoo was the first zoo site opened to the public on 22 July 1913, and was incorporated by Royal Charter later that year. However, it was only in 1948, following a visit by HRH King George VI, that the Society was granted the privilege of adding the prefix ‘Royal’ to its name. It remains the only zoo with a Royal Charter in the United Kingdom.
Since then the RZSS has expanded and now runs the Highlands Wildlife Zoo also, this large outdoor and indoor zoo caters for hundreds of animals from the rare Snow Leopards to the Polar Bears of Antartica, guests continue to enjoy and explore the huge selection of animals and activities year on year.
The RZSS continues to promote, facilitate and encourage the study of zoology and kindred subjects and to foster and develop amongst the people an interest in and knowledge of animal life, with education as part of its core the RZSS has always been keen to teach children and families about the importance of wildlife preservation at the core of the Zoo’s activities, and we are proud of our international reputation for excellence in this field.
Accessibility is also of upmost importance at the Edinburgh Zoo and Highlands Park, with guests being able to use the Access Card as proof of disability for a carer/companion ticket with relevant +1 symbol, please note that as zoo’s are outdoors, incremental weather can affect the grounds and facilities at the park, so all guests are informed to make sure to take precaution on the grounds as they can become slippy and muddy.
Over the years, the RZSS has continued to develop in line with growing needs for animal welfare, both physical and psychological. New enclosures are designed regularly to enrich the animals’ lives and provide exciting and inspirational experiences for all visitors, regardless of physical ability.