SRUC horticulture students in dinosaur zoo garden plant

Five horticulture students from SRUC's Oatridge Campus have helped RZSS Edinburgh Zoo's Gardens Team recreate the natural habitat of dinosaurs at the zoo.

Ahead of the unveiling of 14 animatronic real-size dinosaurs at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, the National Certificate (NC) Horticulture students helped to plant and landscape part of the 0.8ha site which is the setting for the seven-month Dinosaurs Return! Exhibition.

The students worked with zoo staff to plant the species, sourced from as far afield as Italy, which are the closest living relatives to the actual plants from the Jurassic, Triassic and Cretaceous periods. The plants included root balled and bare root trees such as Ginkgo biloba and Araucaria araucana. The zoo team designed small environments similar to that at  the time of the dinosaurs up to 65 million years ago.

The exhibition which runs 3 April – 1 November 2015 aims to raise awareness about the very  threat of extinction faced today by many endangered species.

SRUC Oatridge student Jennifer Wright said: "I enjoyed learning about the plants and using ones which are as close as possible to those eaten by the dinosaurs all those many millions of years ago.  This was a challenging and very rewarding project to be part of."

Fellow volunteer Martin Hall said: "It’s been absolutely amazing. We have never worked on anything like this before. There is so much to take in and we can relate what we are learning to our studies.

"Staff at the zoo made us feel very welcome, and we have learnt a great deal from the in-house gardens team who work 24-7 maintaining and developing the Zoo grounds. We think it’s been exceptional to be working and being able to hear the roar of the lions at the same time."

Ann Burns, horticulture team leader at Oatridge, said: "Most people when talking about Edinburgh Zoo think about the animals, however it’s necessary to create the right environment for them with the plants they are used to and that is where horticulture has a place."

Rab Harden, head gardener at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said: "The 14 strong gardens team at Edinburgh Zoo worked really hard over a two month period to develop the environment for the amazing creatures that are part of Dinosaurs Return! We are delighted with the end result which shows the true value of horticulture and the living landscape in developing an exhibition like this. We were grateful for the help of the five horticulture students over the six day period."

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