A new report on bird conservation in British zoos highlights the role of three top South West collections.
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall are all part of the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust. Between them they work with 6 out of the 10 bird species named in the Top Ten Bird Species Benefitting from Zoos and Aquariums report, compiled by BIAZA, the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which represents the country’s top zoos.
Paignton Zoo holds Bali starling, Socorro dove, Visayan tarictic hornbill and the blue-laughing thrush. It also works with Edwards’s pheasants, although currently there is none in the collection. Living Coasts holds African penguins, while Newquay Zoo has Ecuadorian Amazon parrots and the blue-laughing thrush.
The African penguin, Visayan tarictic hornbill – from the Philippines – and the Ecuadorian Amazon parrot are all listed as Endangered; the Bali starling, the blue-laughing thrush and Edwards’s pheasant are all Critically Endangered.
The Socorro dove is officially Extinct in the Wild and has been saved from total extinction through captive breeding. Paignton Zoo Curator of Birds Jo Gregson: “It’s not a beautiful bird, visitors probably don’t pay them much attention, but it would be difficult to find a better example of what good zoos can do to help a species in real trouble, when all else has failed!”
Each year BIAZA members work to inspire their 25 million visitors with a love for, and interest in the natural world. Globally zoos have contributed billions of US dollars to conservation causes, have trained and employed thousands of experts in every aspect of conservation and have published thousands of scientific articles on biodiversity conservation, in the fight to save both species and their habitats.
In order to qualify for a position in the top ten birds list, a species had to be classified as seriously threatened on a global or regional scale, and had to be associated with an ongoing field initiative by a BIAZA member which has had (or has the potential for making) an imminent and significant contribution to conservation in the wild.
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a registered charity. For more information go to www.paigntonzoo.org.uk or ring 01803 697500.