is flying high after being recognised for the work it does to protect highly
threatened bird species.
The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) has
created a list of the top ten birds benefiting from conservation and breeding
programmes at zoos and aquariums in the UK and Ireland.
Chester Zoo is
home to six of the species on the list - the Bali Starling, Northern Bald Ibis,
Visayan Tarictic Hornbill, Ecuador Amazon Parrot, Socorro Dove and the Blue-Crowned Laughing Thrush.
Andrew Owen, curator of birds at the zoo, said:
“The zoo plays a significant role in supporting and protecting
endangered birds on the brink of extinction. The conservation of these birds is
not just about the work we do here in the zoo through our breeding programmes,
but also the important work we support in the wild.
“A particular success has been the work we’ve done through a partnership with
the Begawan Foundation in Bali - with the Bali starling. Just 14 years ago it
was thought that only six individuals remained. However, through carefully
managed breeding and reintroduction programmes that we assist with, this number
has significantly increased over the last few years.
“Zoos can do so much to help birds and it’s great to be recognised for
the huge amount of effort that we put into protecting very rare, endangered
bird species. We care for more than half the species on the list, as well as
many other highly threatened species that haven’t been listed, which is a big
BIAZA use strict criteria to select the top ten list, as all of the species
had to be associated with current field initiatives or part of essential
conservation breeding in zoos, with priority being given to species listed as ‘threatened’
on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list of threatened
Pullen, CEO of BIAZA, said:
“This year’s top
ten report is the fourth in a series which highlights the contribution of good
zoos and aquariums to the conservation of the natural world. This time, the
focus is on birds. The birds in our latest report are all species that are reliant on
captive breeding to complement field initiatives.”
The top ten list
demonstrates the importance of zoos and aquariums not only for conservation breeding
of safety-net populations, but also for their contribution to funding and
management of conservation projects in the field, including research, education
and support for local communities, as well as protection of crucial wildlife
A closer look at the six species Chester Zoo works with:
Bali Starling: These are seen as very desirable cage birds,
and illegal trapping has brought them to virtual extinction in the wild –
Chester Zoo works and supports captive breeding programmes in Bali.
Blue-Crowned Laughing Thrush: The zoo population
of this Chinese bird equates to 50% of the total global population – Chester
Zoo have taken the lead in coordinating the conservation effort in the wild,
with captive breeding programmes occurring in mainland China.
Ecuadorian Amazon Parrot: With fewer
than 600 individuals left, its survival relies on the protection of remaining
wild populations and their habitats – Chester Zoo not only manage breeding
programmes in Ecuador but also conduct regular field research which is
incremental to monitoring populations and identifying areas where protection is
Northern Bald Ibis: Pesticide
poisoning has had a devastating effect on their numbers. The BIAZA community is
working together to ensure a genetically diverse bloodline within the captive population
– Chester Zoo have worked closely with the conservation of this species and
have successfully released eight captive bred birds back into the wild. The
conservation has also been a success at home with a clutch of chicks arriving
in July last year.
Socorro Dove: A classic island species, numbers have been devastated
by man-introduced pests like rats, cats and goats. Captive breeding has saved
it from total extinction – The zoo has supported this species over the last 20
years, and has worked hard to provide a growing population for the future.
Visayan Tarictic Hornbill: Chester and Bristol zoos are actively
supporting in-situ work to save and restore the wild habitat of this species –
with Chester Zoo supporting several initiatives in Panay, Negros and captive
breeding programmes in the Philippines.