A dove so rare that it is currently extinct in the wild has hatched at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo. The Socorro dove hatched on July 9th and took its first flight 14 days later.
RZSS Edinburgh Zoo plays a large role in the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) for this species, having produced 12 chicks since beginning their involvement in 2005.
Bird Team Leader at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, Colin Oulton 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.”
The zoo also collaborated with Paignton Zoo on a 2008 export of 12 Socorro doves to Albuquerque Zoo in the United States. Here they formed a satellite colony which, it is hoped, will provide birds for reintroduction on Socorro Island where they went extinct in the early 1970s. A group at Africam Safari which came from the colony sent to Albuquerque produced Mexico’s first chick in 2013.
Currently there are just 100 of these birds surviving in captivity. Eventually it is hoped that some of these will be released onto Socorro Island, which lies 600km off the Mexican coast, in the future. Currently the island is being worked on to ensure it will be a suitable release site.
Oulton added, “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.”
Currently the dove is off show at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo. Another of his kind lives on exhibit in the zoo’s Brilliant Birds habitat.
Photo Credit: RZSS Edinburgh Zoo