Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Plan to save bird extinct in wild

Socorro dove chick
Edinburgh Zoo has produced 11 Socorro chicks in its breeding programme

Edinburgh Zoo has joined forces with Paignton Zoo in Devon and zoos abroad in a bid to save a bird that has been extinct in the wild for 30 years.

The Socorro dove, which originates from Socorro Island off Mexico, died out in the wild in the 1970s as a result of human disturbance and habitat loss.

Several were held in private collections and breeding pairs were formed to sustain the population.

Edinburgh Zoo has produced 11 chicks to date.

In the next stage of the reintroduction, five birds from Edinburgh Zoo and seven birds from Paignton Zoo were flown to California in October and have now been transferred to Albuquerque Zoo in New Mexico.

Socorro dove
The Socorro dove has been extinct in the wild since the 70s
The birds will form a satellite population outside Europe and their offspring could be the first Socorro doves to be seen on their ancestral home.

Edinburgh Zoo's head bird keeper Colin Oulton said: "The Socorro Dove Project demonstrates how the zoo world and conservation community can work closely with each other to bring species back from the brink of extinction.

"It's further evidence of the increasing role that zoos like Edinburgh and Paignton can play in saving species from disappearing off the face of the planet.

"The glimmer of hope held by all involved in the Socorro Dove Project is that this little brown dove will once again be found on its ancestral island, and that glimmer just got a bit brighter.

"Breeding Socorro doves can be tricky as the males are notoriously aggressive in their pursuit of mates."

Paignton Zoo curator of birds Jo Gregson said: "This project shows how conservationists around the world work together.

"It's important that we try to save every single threatened species, not just the well-known charismatic ones. Every species has the right to survive."

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