St Andrews Aquarium meerkats start the new decade in a new den

With most of us striving to keep the house in check after the Christmas festivities, spare a thought for the team at St Andrews Aquarium who battled against the advent clock to finish off a new enclosure for their family of thirteen meerkats.

The new enclosure, which re-opened this week, has almost doubled in size and comes with the added bonus of 30 metres of tunnels in which the meerkats can now play hide and seek.

John Mace, general manager of St Andrews Aquarium, commented:

“We’re really pleased that we managed to finish the meerkat enclosure just before Christmas – our playful meerkats are very popular with visitors and since they’ve been with us now for almost a decade we felt it was time their home had a bit of a spruce up. We have refreshed the enclosure over the years, but this was a fairly major extension and I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. The meerkats have been settling in over the last few days while we’ve been enjoying the festive break and seem to very much enjoy their new tunnel system.”

St Andrews Aquarium is open seven days a week in winter from 10am – 5pm, with last entry in winter at 4pm. The Aquarium is closed on New Year’s Day.

To find out more about St Andrews Aquarium www.standrewsaquarium.co.uk

Freaky four-eyed fish a first for Fife aquarium

St Andrews Aquarium in Fife is the first aquarium in Scotland to welcome a display of rare four-eyed fish this Autumn. The shoal of 10 Anablaps, which originally come from the rivers of South America, have been transferred to St Andrews Aquarium from Living Waters at Paignton Zoo in Devon.

The Anableps use their bizarre eyes to see both above and below the water’s surface at the same time. The pupil in each eye is horizontally divided into two parts, giving the impression they have four eyes. This unusual anatomical anomaly allows the fish to find food at or below the surface and also give it extra protection against predators from above and below.

John Mace, general manager of St Andrews Aquarium said: “They’re amazing-looking fish and I fully expect they’ll be one of our most popular freshwater species here at the aquarium. They are quite mesmerising to look at and, most unusually, unlike other fish they don’t lay eggs but actually give birth to fully formed fish which is quite rare. We’re hopeful that they’ll settle into their new home quickly and we’ll be looking at young Anableps joining the shoal in due course.” St Andrews Aquarium is open seven days a week from 10:00am – 6:00pm, with last entry at 5.00pm.

Mischief making iguanas top the naughty list after full ‘scale’ fight

The team at St Andrews Aquarium in Fife have had to step in to break up a full “scale” Iguana fight between their two resident iguanas, leading them to believe their October holiday campaign called “Mischief in the Making” may have been taken far too seriously by the animals involved.

The two green iguanas, who have been resident at the Aquarium for several years, have never fought before. The recent scrap between the two (a male and a female), however, resulted in a trip to the vets this week and the requirement for both to get stitches.

John Mace, general manager at St Andrews Aquarium, commented:

“I’ve no idea what they were fighting about, they’ve never fought before, but we needed to seek veterinary treatment for both of the iguanas today. In their scuffles, they have managed to pierce each other’s delicate reptilian skin and, because it doesn’t heal as easily as human skin, they have both required stitches!

“We’ve been running an October marketing campaign called ‘Mischief in the Making’ which is largely centred on the naughty antics of our monkeys, penguins and seals. Perhaps they were feeling that they weren’t getting enough attention as a result, but suffice to say, they are now at the top of my list as aquarium mischief makers!”

Both iguanas have been given the all clear by the vets and are now on the mend and expected to make a full recovery. Iguanas are normally very laid-back animals, but have been known to be territorial, with fighting often seen as an assertion of dominance.

St Andrews Aquarium is open seven days a week from 10:00am – 6:00pm, with last entry at 5.00pm. Expert talks on reptile handling take place daily at 11.20am and 2.20pm.

St Andrews Aquarium welcomes animal superfan to their talks team

An animal expert and passionate fan of the natural world has been appointed to join the talented team at St Andrews Aquarium. Christie Dewar-Holmes, 26, has joined the aquarium’s talks team, leading presentations about the various animals to visitors.

Christie’s appointment marks an exciting period for the Fife-based aquarium which welcomed tens of thousands of visitors over a busy summer period. The visitor attraction also recently completed a series of upgrades to its amphibian and invertebrate enclosures which have enabled the aquarium to create mini ecosystems with more plants and green spaces to create more of a natural habitat for the animals.

From Kirkcaldy, Christie’s lifelong “obsession” with the animal world led her to study Animal Biology at Edinburgh Napier University and seek out opportunities that involved working with animals.

Christie said:

“When I was a teenager, I started a small business as a pet sitter to supplement my income. I’ve also worked in catteries and volunteered at a bunch of places including a butterfly house. I volunteered at Edinburgh Zoo while I was studying which has led to a seasonal job there and I work for Vets Now as an Animal Care Assistant. I’ve loved working at St Andrews Aquarium too because I’ve been able to work with so many different animals and the staff have been so welcoming.”

While Christie is clearly in her element working closely with the many different animals, presenting in front of large numbers of people can be more of a challenge. Christie explained:

“I have autism and, when I was younger, I could be quite awkward at times.  I worked on this by performing in theatre productions when I was growing up and they gave me the confidence to talk in front of people. That early experience combined with being knowledgeable about the animals makes it a lot easier to present talks.”

Originally a volunteer at the aquarium, Christie’s enthusiasm, knowledge and easy rapport with visitors meant the aquarium team were keen to keep her around.

John Mace, Managing Director at St Andrews Aquarium, said:

“We are delighted to have someone of Christie’s calibre join our brilliant talks team. Her boundless enthusiasm and insight into the animals makes for an exciting and hugely educational experience for our visitors. We have added more talks this summer so there are more opportunities than ever before for the public to engage with our talks team and the animals during a visit.”

Expert talks and feedings take place throughout the day including reptile handling, monkey and seal feedings and talks and meerkat and penguin feedings. When asked her favourite animals to present talks on, it’s not an easy choice for Christie. She added:

“There’s so many exotic species to explore and enjoy here at St Andrews Aquarium. I do, however, have a soft spot for our Harbour Seals – they are so intelligent! In particular, little Dug the seal is wonderful to work with.”

St Andrews Aquarium is open seven days a week from 10:00am – 6:00pm, with last entry at 5.00pm.

Aquarium Residents Share a Cool Easter Treat

The resident seals and penguins of St Andrews Aquarium in Fife enjoyed a cool Easter treat today, taking time out from the weekend sunshine to enjoy a frozen ‘easter egg” containing their favourite treat, mackerel. The treats were prepared by the Aquarium team when they heard the forecast was for warmer weather this weekend.

In a series of posts and videos released on the Aquarium’s facebook page, the Humboldt penguins and Nelly the seal were shown playing with the egg-celent icy Easter treats in the water, as well as inspecting them up close.

John Mace, Managing Director at St Andrews Aquarium, commented: “When it’s warmer, frozen fish popsicles are a great way for the animals to cool down and for visitors to the Aquarium to enjoy watching them play. With it being Easter this weekend it only made sense that they were Easter egg shaped! The penguins were very curious about their frozen egg and can be seen ‘bopping’ it with their beaks in the water. Nelly also seemed to enjoy her afternoon playing with her eggs shaped ball of icy mackerel.”

St Andrews Aquarium is open 7 days a week from 10:00am – 6:00pm, with last entry at 5pm.

To find out more about St Andrews Aquarium visit the website: www.standrewsaquarium.co.uk

Monkey business at St Andrew’s Aquarium as Fife visitor attraction welcomes a pair of super cute marmosets – just in time for Christmas

A pair of Common Marmosets are the latest addition to the recently refurbished St Andrew’s Aquarium.

The adorable little monkeys were rescued from private collections and re-homed to the Fife visitor attraction from Heathrow Animal Rescue Centre this week.

The breeding pair, who as yet have no names, wasted no time in settling into their cozy enclosure … just in time to celebrate Christmas in their new Fife home.

John Mace, Managing Director of St Andrews Aquarium, commented:

“To some of our visitors, seeing marmosets in an aquarium may be surprising, however their enclosure is part of our wider education programme highlighting the effects of deforestation on our lands and seas. Everything is connected and it is important for us to showcase the whole ecosystem.”

Standing at only seven inches tall, the Common Marmoset is one of the world’s smallest monkeys.

St Andrews Aquarium is open seven days a week from 10am – 6pm, with last entry at 5pm.

“I’m a granny all over again” tweets Judy Murray after visiting her penguin “family” at St Andrew’s Aquarium

Judy Murray tweeted she’s “a granny all over again” after visiting her new “grandchildren” at St Andrew’s Aquarium.

The 58-year-old former Strictly Come Dancing star popped into the Fife visitor attraction this week to visit the Humboldt penguin family that were named after her own famous clan – Judy, Shirley, Kim and Andy.

And she was delighted to discover one had recently hatched two chicks.

She tweeted: “Feeding the Murray penguin family at wonderful St Andrews Aquarium yesterday. Andy Penguin has had two babies so I’m a granny all over again.”

She added: “Judy Penguin was moulting (but still gorgeous) and thankfully she has inherited the family catching skills.”

Return of the Mac: Six-foot mackerel statue is back at St Andrew’s Aquarium after mysterious disappearance

Staff at St Andrew’s Aquarium are celebrating the return of their beloved six-foot mackerel statue which disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

The eye-catching model – nicknamed Big Mac – has been standing guard outside the popular Fife visitor attraction for the last four years.

However, Aquarium staff noticed something fishy was afoot following recent graduation festivities when Big Mac wasn’t in his usual spot.

John Mace, Managing Director of St Andrews Aquarium, commented:
“I’m delighted to report that Big Mac has been returned to the Aquarium. He’s looking a little bit worse for wear after his recent adventures, but once he’s had some attention he’ll be back outside the Aquarium welcoming visitors as usual.”

St Andrews Aquarium welcomes two seals to their marine family

A pair of adventurous Common Seals have travelled from the Norfolk coast to Fife to find a permanent new home in Scotland. Dug and Silver made the long, incredible journey by road to their new residence at St Andrews Aquarium from Hunstanton Sea Life Centre.

Dug, a one-year old rescue seal and Silver, a three-year-old seal born at Hunstanton Sea Life Centre, arrived at St Andrews Aquarium on Friday afternoon and have been given a warm welcome by their new pals, Nelly and Luna who are the aquarium’s two other Common Seals.

Dug and Luna even sealed their new friendship with a kiss when Dug made his way into the water.

The aquarium team are delighted to be growing their seal family, which are always popular with visitors. John Mace, manager at St Andrews Aquarium, said:
“When we heard that Hunstanton Sea life Centre were looking to re-home Dug and Silver so they could have an all-female family of seals, we were only to happy to give them a new home here. We think they will have a great time splashing around in our seal enclosure with Nelly and Luna. Our visitors always enjoy meeting our seal family and the daily feeding times and interactive talks from our keepers are always a big hit!”

A great day out for all the family, St Andrews Aquarium is home to an array of marine wildlife from Humboldt Penguins to Poison Dart Frogs. There’s also an incredible family of sociable meerkats to see and even meet up-close on a feeding experience when exploring the aquarium.