Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Zoo's bid to save rare bird from extinction

EDINBURGH Zoo is playing a key role in a bid to save one of the world's rarest birds.
The Socorro dove, which originates from Socorro Island off the coast of Mexico, has been extinct in the wild for more than 30 years.

Only a few birds survive in private collections in Britain and Germany, where breeding pairs have been formed to sustain a population.

Edinburgh Zoo became involved in the breeding programme in 2005, and, with three mature birds, has successfully produced 14 chicks.

The Scots birds form a vital part of the pure-bred global population, which numbers fewer than 100.

Edinburgh Zoo's head bird keeper, Colin Oulton, said their offspring could be the first Socorro doves to return to their ancestral home.

Last month, five of the birds from Edinburgh were flown to California. The doves have now been transferred to Albuquerque Zoo in New Mexico. They will form the first population outside Europe and free up space in European collections for further breeding.

Mr Oulton said: "Breeding Socorro doves can be tricky, as the males are notoriously aggressive in their pursuit of mates."

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