Edinburgh Zoo unveils cartoonist in residence

One of Cameron McPhail's zoo cartoons. Picture: comp
One of Cameron McPhail's zoo cartoons. Picture: comp
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The very first cartoonist-in-residence has been appointed at Edinburgh Zoo to set about capturing the animal magic and raise awareness of the work of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.

The job has been awarded to former banker Cameron McPhail who worked as chief executive of wealth management at RBS until 2002, when he left to write and draw full time.

Dr McPhail and his co-workers
from his Kartoon Faktory company will join a team of more than a dozen “residents” appointed by RZSS, including a sculptor, beekeeper, environmental scientist, storyteller, silversmith, wildlife artist, nature photographer, palaeontologist, adventurer/explorer and an organic chef.

Plans for his residency include the creation of cartoon books based on the animals at both the Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park in the Cairngorms National Park; speeded-up footage of illustrations being created at both parks and possibly even RZSS’s own cartoon strip.

Kathy Sorley, RZSS “thinker in residence” and manager of the RZSS residency programme, said: “Humour is a brilliant avenue to bring 
topical issues to people’s attention, and to pique their curiosity about conservation matters we care deeply about through clever use of wry and insightful cartoons.

“We are delighted he and his illustration team at the Kartoon Faktory have agreed to become our RZSS Cartoonists in Residence.”

Dr McPhail, who started his career at Scottish Enterprise then joined the Royal Bank of Scotland, wrote his first book, a satire on the Scots psyche called The Scottish Nationality Test, in 2009. He has also published his first children’s book, Magpies and Mischief, through Black & White Publishing in Edinburgh.

Dr McPhail’s first work for the zoo is a series of two cartoons. The first celebrates the latest batch of meerkat pups at the Meerkat Plaza, depicting a cartoonist drawing the new arrivals and an adult meercat saying to the other, “He’s expensive, but they deserve the best”.

Meanwhile, the second features Dr McPhail and illustrator Oli Nightingale in a cage at the zoo watched by visitors, with the caption, “Kathy, this Cartoonists in Residence role is not quite what we had in mind”.

Dr McPhail said: “This is a wonderful time to be associated with RZSS Edinburgh Zoo and RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, and given the wealth of subject material we are bound to have a lot of fun during our residency.”