22/08/2019

‘Extinct’ birds hatch here at the Zoo

​One of the world’s rarest bird species has been bred by keepers here at the Zoo.

Two Socorro dove chicks have hatched and are thriving here at the Zoo, marking a major success for the species which is extinct in the wild.

These are the first chicks for our new adult breeding pair after a female Socorro dove arrived from Burger’s Zoo (Arnhem) in the Netherlands in April as a new mate for our lone male bird.

It is the first time Socorro doves have successfully bred here at the Zoo in four years. Despite being just seven weeks old, the chicks have fledged their nest and are already almost fully grown. They can be seen in our round aviary between the herbaceous border and Conservation Education Centre.

The last recorded sighting of a Socorro dove in the wild was in 1972. Now there are around just 190 individual birds held in captivity in zoos around the world – including 26 birds in eight UK zoos – four of which are here at the Zoo and two at our sister attraction, Wild Place Project. Coordinated conservation breeding of the birds has prevented the total extinction of the species.

Our curator of birds, Trevor Franks, said: “Socorro doves are on the very brink of extinction and sadly now only exist in captivity, so to have bred these chicks is a great achievement and a massive boost for the captive breeding programme for this incredibly significant species.”

Keepers now hope that the young birds will eventually be paired with Socorro doves from other UK and European zoos to continue the vital captive breeding programme for the species.

Socorro doves were native to the island of Socorro, 600 miles off the western coast of Mexico. They died out after falling prey to a rising number of feral cats in the area. Overgrazing sheep also destroyed much of their forest floor habitat and the birds were also hunted by humans for food.

Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.

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