Edinburgh Zoo Working Hard to Save Dove Species

November 28, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

The Edinburgh Zoo is a non-profit zoological park located in Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. The park operates under the mission statement “To excite and inspire our visitors with the wonder of living animals and so to promote the conservation of threatened species and habitats.” The zoo’s recent efforts with regards to saving the Socorro dove certainly fall in line with those goals.

Edinburgh Zoo has been hard at work in helping to save one of the world’s rarest birds, the Socorro dove. The bird hails from Socorro Island, which is located off the coast of Mexico. The bird has already been extinct in the wild for as many as 30 years and so any efforts to not only preserve captive species, but to reintroduce them into the wild are most admirable. The only few remaining Socorro doves can be found in private collections in Germany and Britain. Understanding the great threat that these birds are under, owners of the birds have formed several breeding populations within these private collections in order to sustain a small population. There are currently less than 100 Socorro doves in existence and all of them are considered to be part of the pure-bred global population.

Now it seems that the birds might be returning to Socorro Island. The Edinburgh Zoo first got involved in the breeding program in 2005 and now they have managed to successfully produce 14 chicks from three mature birds. It seems that the zoo now plans to try to take some of these birds back home. Five of the birds were flown from Edinburgh to California last month from where they will be taken to the Albuquerque Zoo in New Mexico. According to the Zoo’s head bird keeper, Colin Oulton, these are most likely the first Socorro doves to return to the island since they disappeared from the island completely some time ago. The move frees up space in European collections so that breeding can continue and over-all numbers of the birds can grow. Attempts to reintroduce the bird into the wild may well prove to be difficult, or even impossible. But one can only hope that given enough effort and time, this may be achievable for the benefit of future generations.

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