As part of their effort to conserve several endangered bird species, zookeepers at ZSL London Zoo have managed to breed two wild Socorro Doves, which are extinct in the wild, last seen in 1972. This success is part of a wider collaborative programme, aimed to prevent several bird species from becoming extinct.
Thanks to the successful breeding project, the zoo has seen four new chicks introduced to the group, increasing the global population up to 162. The new hatchlings have now all fledged the nest and can be seen in the historic Blackburn Pavilion, an area home to several threatened bird species.
The first two chicks have been confirmed as males, however the second pair are still awaiting results, which can only be obtained by testing their feathers for DNA results.
“They’re no swans to look at, but these fluffy brown chicks are a real boost to the global zoo population of this sadly extinct-in-the-wild bird – it’s successes like these that could ultimately lead to the birds being reintroduced to their native island in the future, once their habitat has been fully restored.” said ZSL’s Curator of Birds Gary Ward.
How did the species become extinct in the wild?
In the wild the small brown doves had fallen victim to several ecological changes within their environment. When an invasive species was introduced to their home island, the doves found it challenging and lacked instinct to escape new predators, having lived in seclusion for so long on the island. Grazing sheep depleted their food sources as well as triggering the degradation of their natural habitat, forcing them to be wiped out. Other animals such as cats were also a major threat to their survival.