Rare Socorro Dove Hatches in Edinburgh Zoo

03 August 2015 | Royal Zoological Society of Scotland News Release

An incredibly rare dove that has been extinct in the wild since the early 1970’s has hatched at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo. With less than 100 pure bred individuals of this species left in the world, a Socorro dove chick hatched on the 9th July before taking flight and fledging 14 days later.

Conservation charity the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), as part of the overarching European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), has successfully bred this incredibly rare species since 2005 and raised an astounding 12 chicks to date.

Not only that, but in 2008 RZSS Edinburgh Zoo and Paignton Zoo have collectively sent 12 Socorro doves to Albuquerque Zoo in the USA to form a satellite breeding group amongst North American collections. Subsequently, several birds were transferred from there to Africam Safari in Pueblo, Mexico in 2013 and the following year saw the first Socorro dove chicks hatched in Mexico for almost 40 years. The hope is that these birds will provide offspring to be reintroduced to their native habitat on the island of Socorro, Mexico, in the near future.

Colin Oulton, Bird Team Leader for RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said: “We are delighted to see another incredibly rare Socorro dove hatch, the first from a new breeding pair sent to us as part of the EEP. Male Socorro doves are notoriously aggressive in their pursuits of mates, which is one of the reasons breeding this species can be difficult.

“It is incredibly sad to think that this species is now extinct in the wild and only around 100 exist in captivity. The hatching of this bird highlights the significant role zoos play in conserving species and helping to increase population numbers of rare animals. Due to coordinated breeding programmes with zoos across the world, this species has been saved and we are able to increase the numbers and hopefully reintroduce them back into their native habitat.”

The Socorro dove was endemic to Socorro Island, around 600km off the west coast of Mexico, however the introduction of sheep that ate plants the doves depended on for food and shelter and cats that preyed upon the birds is thought to have caused their decline.  Work is currently taking place on Socorro Island to ensure it is suitable for the future reintroduction of the doves.

The young bird, which has yet to be sexed, is currently off-show at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo with its parents. However an adult Socorro dove can be spotted in the Brilliant Birds Enclosure at the Zoo.

Photos of the hatchling can be viewed at the following link:https://www.dropbox.com/sh/yh43gl2so4ya82r/AAByMX0llxaQy9fIO56WI6ZCa?dl=0

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About RZSS Edinburgh Zoo and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

·        RZSS Edinburgh Zoo is set in 82 acres of sloping parkland, just a stone’s throw away from Edinburgh’s bustling city centre. In its 101 year history the Zoo has been home to many famous animal residents, more recently the UK’s only giant pandas, Tian and Yang Guang, and UK’s only koalas, including the first joey born on British soil in 2013

·        RZSS Edinburgh Zoo is owned by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), a registered charity, charity no SC004064

·        The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland was founded by visionary lawyer Thomas Gillespie, the Society was set up in 1909 ‘to promote, facilitate and encourage the study of zoology and kindred subjects and to foster and develop amongst the people an interest in and knowledge of animal life’. The Society still exists to connect people with nature and safeguard species from extinction.

·        For further information on all our conservation projects and events, please visit our website –www.edinburghzoo.org.uk

·         RZSS Edinburgh Zoo is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA).  BIAZA represents its member collections and promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums.  For further information please telephone 020 7449 6351

For further information please contact:

Gavrielle Kirk-Cohen, PR Coordinator for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, on 0131 314 0383 or gkirkcohen@rzss.org.uk

Rachel Goddard, PR Manager for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, on 0131 314 0312 or rgoddard@rzss.org.uk

OR media@rzss.org.uk


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