Wednesday 18 September 2019

Two rare dove chicks hatch at British zoo

The Socorro dove chicks are seven weeks old and said to be thriving.

By Claire Hayhurst, PA

One of the world’s rarest bird species has been bred by keepers at a British zoo.

There are just 190 Socorro doves in captivity in zoos around the world, with the last recorded sighting of one in the wild dating back to 1972.

Two chicks hatched at Bristol Zoo Gardens seven weeks ago, the first successful breeding of Socorro doves there for four years, and have already left the nest.

They were bred after a female dove arrived from Burgers’ Zoo in the Netherlands as a mate for Bristol Zoo’s lone male bird.

Trevor Franks, curator of birds at Bristol, said: “Socorro doves are on the very brink of extinction and sadly now only exist in captivity, so to have bred these chicks is a great achievement and a massive boost for the captive breeding programme for this incredibly significant species.”

There are 26 Socorro doves in eight UK zoos, four of which are at Bristol and two at its sister attraction, Wild Place Project.

Keepers hope the chicks will eventually be paired with Socorro doves from other UK and European zoos to continue the captive breeding programme.

The doves were native to the island of Socorro, 600 miles off the western coast of Mexico.

They died out after falling prey to a rising number of feral cats in the area, with overgrazing sheep also destroying much of their forest floor habitat.

The birds were also hunted by humans for food.

PA Media

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