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Last Updated: Monday, 30 October 2006, 01:02 GMT
Zoo celebrating rare dove birth
Socorro dove
The species was hunted to extinction by feral cats
A rare Mexican bird that died out in the wild in the 1970s has been successfully bred at London Zoo.

The Socorro dove is native to Socorro Island in the Revillagigedo Islands, 600 miles off the west coast of Mexico.

The species was last sighted in Socorro in 1972 and there are now thought to be fewer than 100 in captivity.

Zoo keepers have named the new dove, Arnie - after Arnold Schwarzenegger. They hope successful captive breeding will increase the birds' numbers.

'Reintroduction programme'

John Ellis, the Zoological Society of London's Curator of Birds, said: "This is an enormous success for London Zoo and a real tribute to the hard work and expertise of our keepers.

"I would like to think that this captive breeding success marks a change in the fortunes of the Socorro dove, and we are delighted to be playing our part in the reintroduction programme."

The species died out after falling prey to a rising number of feral cats.

They were hunted by humans for food and overgrazing by sheep also destroyed much of their forest floor habitat.

As part of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria breeding programme, it is hoped Arnie's descendants will eventually be reintroduced into the forests of Socorro.




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