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Last Updated: Friday, 20 August, 2004, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Rare owl aids conservation plan
The long-eared owl
The rare bird is just five months old and was bred in captivity
Bristol Zoo Gardens staff handed over a rare captive-bred long-eared owl to the Hawk and Owl Trust on Friday.

The, as yet, unnamed five-month-old bird was bred at the World Owl Trust at Muncaster Castle in Cumbria.

The current UK population of long- eared owls is estimated to be between 1,500 and 2000 pairs, but has declined significantly since the 1950s.

The two prominent ear tufts are used for communication and camouflage but not connected to hearing.

"There is a need to look in more detail at the long-eared owl," said Chris Sperring of the Hawk and Owl Trust.

The long-eared owl
Children will be invited to choose a name
"In one area of the West Country we can find over 50 breeding pairs of barn owl yet there were only three pairs of long-eared owl."

The World Owl Trust's Jenny Holden, added: "It is high time this species had the proper conservation consideration and protection that it deserves."

Deputy Director of Bristol Zoo Gardens, Dr Bryan Carroll, who helped launch the conservation project, said: "Our work increasingly encompasses habitat management for local species.

"We are pleased to be able to help with the programme for this poorly understood and very rare forest owl."

The zoo is planning to ask children to decide on a name for the owl.

Rescued owls returned to the wild
10 Jul 04  |  Somerset


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