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Double conservation success for zoo’s bird keepers

Posted on: 2 August, 2023

Press release

Two of the world’s most threatened species of bird have successfully bred at Bristol Zoo Project - safeguarding the future of their species for years to come.

The huge achievement for our bird keepers has seen the hatching of a Socorro dove, a species now Extinct in the wild, and an Endangered male Visayan tarictic hornbill chick.

It’s the sixth time that our pair of hornbills have produced young, and the first time at Bristol Zoo Project.

They, along with turtle doves, Mindanao bleeding-heart doves, Socorro doves and a Sumatran laughing thrush, were moved to Bristol Zoo Project from the now-closed Bristol Zoo Gardens site earlier this year, so keepers could focus their efforts on species most in need of conservation.

The male hornbill chick hatched last month and is expected to fledge over the coming weeks. Its mother is currently completely dependent on the father, who delivers protein-rich food to his family, while they’re sealed inside her nest box.

The Socorro dove chick, whose gender is yet to be determined, hatched just a few days after and is the first offspring for our pair of Socorro doves, who also moved earlier this year.

Bristol Zoological Society has bred Socorro doves for more than 20 years. The species was once native to Socorro Island off the west coast of Mexico, until the last sighting in the wild in 1972.

Trevor Franks, Curator of Birds at Bristol Zoo Project, said: “It’s fantastic to be celebrating another successful breeding season with the arrival of these chicks at Bristol Zoo Project.

“It’s also the first time we have bred Visayan tarictic hornbills at Bristol Zoo Project, which is a major achievement and takes us one step closer to redefining the role of zoos in the 21st century. We hope to breed many more threatened bird species from the individuals we brought across from our Clifton site.

“We are proud to be long-standing breeders of threatened bird species and to play a key role in their conservation breeding programmes.”

A visayan tarictic hornbill perching on a branch. It has a large brown bill, black wings, and an orange and cream chest.

The fledglings, which already have their adult colours, live inside our walled garden aviaries. Visitors will be able to see them over the summer holidays as they become more independent and start to fly.

Tarictic hornbill males have distinctive white and black coloured plumage, while females are mostly jet black. They live in the Visayas Archipelago, which runs through the middle of the Philippines. Here, Bristol Zoological Society is working with local partners to monitor and improve populations of two other Critically Endangered species, the Negros bleeding heart dove and the Visayan warty pig.

Bristol Zoo Project, near Junction 17 of the M5, is 136-acres in size and was formerly known as Wild Place Project.

Here, Bristol Zoological Society will build a new conservation zoo, where around 80 percent of animals will be linked to its conservation work.

Construction at the site is expected to start in 2024 and will include the creation of new spaces for animals with new species, visitor facilities, exciting play areas and a conservation campus for students, vets, and the breeding of threatened animals.