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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 February 2006, 09:06 GMT
Exotic fish smuggled into airport
Clown fish
Many of the fish were found dead
Hundreds of exotic fish which were smuggled into the UK are being looked after by experts at London Zoo.

Almost 1,000 Banggai cardinal fish and clown fish were found hidden in a cargo of legally imported fish which arrived at Heathrow Airport from Indonesia.

About 200 of the fish died during the journey while a further 300 died as a result of their ordeal.

The marine ornamental fish and a large number of stony corals have now been given a home at the Regent's Park zoo.

Protected species of coral are prone to over collecting which threatens the coral reef ecosystem
Brian Zimmerman, London Zoo

The cargo of fish, which had been individually packed in small bags for the journey, was seized by customs officers at the airport in west London.

London Zoo staff then used their expertise to help identify and care for the creatures.

The Banggai cardinal fish is only found near one group of islands in Indonesia and, according to conservationists, is therefore very vulnerable.

London Zoo's Brian Zimmerman said that a species of fish with a limited distribution, like the Banggai cardinal fish, was extremely susceptible to over-exploitation.

"Protected species of coral are prone to over collecting which threatens the coral reef ecosystem," he added.

A spokesman for HM Revenue & Customs said: "Wherever possible, seized goods are donated for scientific and educational purposes."

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