New list announces we are home to some of the world’s species most reliant on zoos

August 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) has announced a list of the top ten species most reliant on zoos across the UK and Ireland for their survival.

This list demonstrates the importance of zoos for captive breeding for reserve populations and reintroductions, but also the role they play in conservation in the wild, including research, fundraising, providing support for local communities and wildlife habitats.

Home to four species on the list – Amur leopards, Sclater’s lemurs, blue crowned laughing thrushes and Polynesian tree snail – Edinburgh Zoo plays a significant part in contributing and working towards safeguarding many of these species, which without zoos would soon disappear altogether.

Perhaps one of our best kept conservation secrets is the success in helping to save the Polynesian tree snail (also known as the Partula snail), one of a group of very rare snails found in French Polynesia – a group of islands in the South Pacific.

In a small off show area of Edinburgh Zoo, due to the specialised conditions they need to be kept in to survive and thrive, is a collection of tiny 20mm long exotic little snails.  Although not very exciting to look at, eleven varieties of this species are completely extinct in the wild.  As part of an international breeding programme, our conservation experts have had such success in getting their collection of Partula snails to breed, that some types of the snail have been increased in number from just two to over 40!

Amur leopards are one of the most endangered big cats in the world, with only as few as 45 thought to be left in the wild.  Once native to China, Korea and Russia, only a small population can now be found in Russia. We have been home to seven year old male Skodje and feisty five year old female Zane since 2009. Extremely beautiful creatures, keepers are hopeful that this breeding pair will produce cubs that will contribute towards the vitally important breeding and conservation work of these big cats.

Noemie and Duke are our pair of Sclater’s lemurs, also known as blue-eyed black lemurs.  The only primate species other than humans to have blue eyes, these type of lemurs can only be found in the wild in Madagascar and numbers have dwindled due to habitat loss and hunting. Noemie was joined by Duke in 2011 and the pair hit it off immediately, with visitors often spotting the pair running along the overhead walkway of their enclosure. Noemie can be identified easily due to her yellow coat, whereas Duke is black.

Edinburgh Zoo is also home to four Blue crowned laughing thrushes.  Taking their name from their colourful appearance, these little birds are very vocal and have a wide range of songs – sometimes sounding like human laughter. In the wild they are exclusively found in China, where only 250 adult birds are estimated to be left. In 2010, two chicks hatched at Edinburgh Zoo, a huge success story for the Zoo and a step in the right direction for the conservation of the species.

Make sure you see them on your next trip to the Zoo.


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