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It’s been a busy breeding season for bird keepers at Bristol Zoo Gardens as the 90th chick has hatched.
The latest arrival is a tiny pink pigeon, the fourth of the species to hatch at the Zoo this year.
The week-old youngster is a fantastic boost for the breeding programme for the rare species which has been classified as Endangered and was virtually extinct in the wild 25 years ago.
In an unusual twist, all four pink pigeon chicks have been raised by foster parents from an entirely different species after their own mother proved to be unreliable at incubating her eggs.
The chicks have been reared by pairs of domestic Barbary doves, which happily adopted the eggs and incubated them for two weeks until they were ready to hatch. The use of foster doves has been an intentional husbandry strategy to bolster the European captive population of this important species.
Richard Switzer, curator of birds at the Zoo, explains: “It was vital that we successfully reared these four chicks as their genes are very important for the captive breeding programme and the wild recovery of this Endangered species.”
The tiny chick is currently in a quiet nest off display, but will eventually join the adult pink pigeons living at the Zoo’s sister attraction, Wild Place Project, near Cribbs Causeway.
Richard added: “It’s been a very successful breeding season and we’ve had many other significant hatchings, such as a Critically Endangered Philippine cockatoo chick, which we are really thrilled with.
“We prioritise the birds we choose to breed each year according to how endangered they are in the wild, or how rare they are in captivity, and we are very pleased with how successful this year has been.”
The Zoo is home to 39 bird species of all shapes and sizes, from vibrant lovebirds and impressive flamingos, to inquisitive keas and grand-looking Victoria crowned pigeons.
One of the rarest creatures in the world can also be found at the Clifton attraction – a pair of Socorro doves – a species which is sadly now extinct in the wild. It is hoped that the pair will breed in the near future.
Bristol Zoological Society 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, and at Wild Place Project, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.
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