Let's see zoo back up its big claims over conservation

FOLLOWING recent concerns raised by a number of animal welfare groups about Edinburgh Zoo's plans to begin breeding chimpanzees in its new Budongo Trail exhibit, the zoo issued a statement to the press from its CEO David Windmill claiming that "95 per cent of the mammals in our animal collection are endangered".

In fact, the zoo's animal inventory for 2006 (the latest publicly available) shows that at the end of 2006, only around 27 per cent of the mammal species and around 27 per cent of the individual mammals kept by the zoo are officially classed as Endangered (or greater risk) by the IUCN (World Conservation Union). Furthermore, less than 50 per cent of the zoo's mammal species and individuals are threatened in the wild (Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered).

This statement appears to be a staggering misrepresentation of the true situation, and we are calling on the zoo to immediately and publicly clarify their claims. We are very concerned that zoos seem to be making unjustified claims about their involvement in and commitment to conservation. This incident is a further example – the CEO of Edinburgh Zoo has claimed conservation credentials that seem to be way beyond the reality.

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A report by the Born Free Foundation published in 2006 found that around 62 per cent of the mammal species held in 13 of the more "prestigious" zoos with charity status in the UK (which included Edinburgh Zoo) were actually in the category of lowest risk of extinction in the wild.

Born Free Foundation, Foundry Lane, Horsham

City cyclists should know their place

THERE has been a lot of debate about the dangers cyclists face on Edinburgh's roads following last week's fatal accident. But as someone who drives for a living (mainly in the city centre) I get the impression that most cyclists don't care about their own safety.

In the last week alone there have been two occasions when I have been driving along main roads, and needing to turn right I have slowed down and put my indicator on and when I've started to turn off the road a cyclist has appeared from behind me and sliced across the front of me forcing me to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting them.

On Wednesday morning I was driving up Morrison Street when a woman cyclist in her 50s who was clearly shattered from cycling uphill started weaving across my path and when I tooted she then sliced her way into lane three outside Sainsbury's forcing a lorry to brake hard to avoid hitting her.

Two weeks ago I was driving home along St Johns Road at 11pm when a cyclist was heading towards me on the wrong side of the road with no lights on!

I cycled to my work for four years before I learned to drive and when I cycled I knew my place and I used a bit of common sense i.e. keep tight to the left hand side of the road at all times and don't obstruct vehicles who pay road tax to use the roads (also I didn't want to get hit by a bus).

While there are a lot of fit, capable cyclists on our roads, there are also quite a few who haven't read the Highway Code and I think it's time tests were made compulsory before you are allowed to take a bike on the roads.

Martin Jones, Forrester Park Gardens, Edinburgh

Griffiths puts the ball in his own net

WRITING in "Mouthpiece", Nigel Griffiths would seek to persuade us that the SNP-led Scottish Government is to blame for the recent swingeing ten per cent hike in Lothian Buses' fares (News, April 30). Really?

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Lothian Buses' fuel costs are only a relatively minor part of its running costs, which include labour costs, capital investment, premises, etc. Yet Mr Griffiths claims that the relatively small additional fuel costs, coupled with the "missing" fraction of the fuel duty rebate – aimed to defray a less than two per cent increase in fuel duty – is justification for a swingeing ten per cent hike in fares.

Isn't the truth that, in his haste to score a political "goal" against the SNP, Mr Griffiths has addressed the excuse for the increase in bus fares and not the reason?

Readers of these columns, and the associated threads on the News website, may well remember my prediction of increases in bus fares leading up to the introduction of the tram system.

In order to ensure that the trams make any kind of operating profit, isn't it certain that bus fares are being systematically hiked in order that tram fares can be pitched at a realistic higher level than originally predicted?

Bus fare levels are being managed upwards to justify the trams' business model. It's not just tram users who are going to pay for them. We will all be forced to pay more – through continually hiked bus fares as well as likely increased council subsidy.

By accepting the excuse given, and using it to attack Holyrood, hasn't Nigel Griffiths effectively just scored an own goal?

Jim Taylor, The Murrays Brae, Edinburgh

Parents must meet costs of travelling

PARENTS should be allowed to send children to schools in other catchment areas as long as those who live within the area get priority.

The other consideration being, any travel expenses involved should be met by the parents and not the education department. This should be a stipulation in all cases where children go to school outwith their area.

Marilyn Williams, Hutchison View, Edinburgh

'Wrong' to quote man with the plan

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YOUR report about Longstone Community Council's comments on the proposed redevelopment of the shopping centre in Inglis Green Road (Eyesore faces bulldozers as new flats set for go-ahead, May 1) is inaccurate.

The statement attributed to me was taken from a submission I made on behalf of LCC last July. Since then there have been several meetings of LCC, where the matter has been discussed.

I am merely the planning contact for LCC.

Steuart Campbell, Dovecot Loan, Edinburgh

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