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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Chester Zoo: Another zoo leading the way in conservation

Chester Zoo logo
 England's Chester Zoo is another excellent zoo which makes a huge conservation difference globally.  Originally opened in 1931, since its earliest days Chester's zoo technology and thinking has been cutting edge.  Chester also has one of the most comprehensive and largest zoo conservation commitments globally.  Chester trains and assists people who save endangered species in situ (within their native lands), captive breeds animals ex situ (not within their native lands; i.e. at Chester Zoo if non-native species), assists captive bred endangered species reintroductions, sponsors research regarding endangered species biology, and minimizes threats through educational program formulation.

The Chester Zoo runs so many conservation projects I do not have time to list them all, so I will instead highlight just a few programs here.
Chester is extremely active within the Mascarene Islands (including Mauritius), and help with work which the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust began and which I went into more detail within another post. With Durrell Chester saves Echo (Mauritius) parakeet Psittacula eques, pink pigeon Columba/Neosonas mayeri, Mauritius kestrel Falco punctatus (also including the Peregrine Fund), Rodrigues fruit bat Pteropus rodricensisMauritius fody Foudia rubra, Mauritius olive white-eye Zosterops chloronothus, and other endangered local species.  Chester Zoo is making a difference within the Mascarenes; they send zoo keepers and animal managers there to assist local conservation efforts, captive breed their endangered species at Chester Zoo, and release those captive bred animals back into their native habitat, .

Partnered to many Philippine conservation organizations (including the Cebu Biodiversity Conservation Foundation (CBCF), Katala, Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation Inc. (NFEFI), and the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc. (PBCFI)), Chester Zoo saves endangered Philippine endemics.  They captive rear animals for eventual release when threats have been reduced, sponsor rangers, support Philippine captive rearing facilities, and other vital regional conservation work.  Chester Zoo also captive breeds critically endangered Philippine cockatoos (or red-vented cockatoo) Cacatua haematuropygia, a parrot which was once common but since large-sale deforestation throughout its range and the pet trade's impacts now only numbers ~1,000 individuals, an estimated 60-90% decrease.  Synthesizing local conservation organizations' work and international organizations' (like Chester Zoo and BirdLife International) support hopefully their threats can be ended.  Chester Zoo also breeds critically endangered Visayan warty pigs Sus cebifrons, which have been completely exterminated off half the islands where it formerly lived and which is disappearing rapidly due to continued habitat loss and high illegal hunting levels, endangered Philippine spotted deer Rusa alfredi which is threatened by habitat loss, illegal hunting, and the pet trade, critically endangered Philippine crocodiles Crocodylus mindorensis which have only ~100 wild adults left, and endangered Visayan tarictic hornbills Penelopides panini which are also threatened through large-scale deforestation and illegal hunting.

Frog by Ben, age 11
Finally, I will focus upon the frog conservation work upon which Chester Zoo is involved.  Many conservation organizations focus on mammals or birds- fundraising is easier then because they are generally considered to be more appealing that frogs.  It is wonderful seeing conservation organizations also saving less appreciated animal groups like frogs; this is not a group most conservation organizations focus on.  Frogs are being hit particularly hard right now; habitat destruction, environmental toxins which frogs absorb through their skin, climate change affects them more strongly than many other species, and currently there is also a chytrid fungus which devastates frog populations globally.  Chester Zoo has stepped up and sponsors endangered frog species field research and determines their wild status, causes for their declines, and their recovery requirements.  Chester has also set up several critically endangered frogs' captive breeding programs: green-eyed frogs Lithobates vibicariusblack-eyed tree frogs (Morelet's treefrog) Agalychnis moreletii, and mountain chickens (chicken frog) Leptodactylus fallax.  Green-eyed frogs were extremely common but became virtually extinct during the past decade- there are now only three small wild populations, and only one is breeding well.  The only captive population is at Chester Zoo, which is developing captive population husbandry techniques while the tiny relict wild population continues its nose dive.  Black-eyed tree frogs have also suffered a catastrophic (over 80%) decline over the last decade, and Chester Zoo will eventually repatriate these frogs using their captive population.  Mountain chickens suffer habitat destruction, chytrid fungus, and their local culinary fame (hence their name) and are now only found inhabiting two of the seven islands they originally inhabited.  A captive breeding program involving Chester Zoo and other zoos (including the Durrell Wildlife Park, which successfully bred them first during 2009) will ensure their captive survival until wild threats have been sorted.
Mountain chicken tadpoles hanging onto mom's back
The Chester Zoo does an excellent conservation job, but could use your support.  If you like what you've read concerning them, do send them some money.

Want to see photos or videos of Rodrigues fruit bats?
Want to see photos or videos of pink pigeons?
Want to see photos or videos of Mauritius kestrels?
Want to see photos or videos of Echo parakeets?
Want to see a photo or videos of Mauritius fodies?
Want to see photos of Mauritius olive white-eyes?
Want to see photos or a video of Philippine cockatoos?
Want to see photos or videos of Visayan warty pigs?
Want to see photos or videos of Philippine spotted deer?
Want to see photos or videos of Philippine crocodiles?
Want to see photos or videos of Visayan tarictic hornbills?
Want to see photos of green-eyed frogs?
Want to see photos or videos of black-eyed tree frogs?
Want to see photos or videos of mountain chickens?

Want to learn more?  Check out the following books:


Walker's Bats of the World by Ronald Nowak
Walker's Bats of the World is taken from Walker's Mammals of the World (which I also highly recommend getting if you love mammals- a brilliant set) and covers everything that is known of every species of bat on Earth.  If you are really into bats, this is currently the best book out there covering the entire Chiroptera order.







Bat Ecology by Thomas Kunz and Brock Fenton
Bat Ecology by Thomas Kunz & M. Brock Fenton will take you to the next level in understanding bats, their roles in their environments, and how they interact with them.







Ecological and Behavioral Methods for the Study of Bats by Thomas Kunz and Stuart Parsons
Ecological and Behavioral Methods for the Study of Bats by Thomas Kunz & Stuart Parsons is for the bat researcher and details everything you need to know about studying bats.  This book would definitely be for you only if you have become completely fixated on bats (or, of course, if you're studying them.)
Pigeons and Doves: A Guide to the Pigeons and Doves of the World by David Gibbs, Eustace Barnes and John Cox
Pigeons and Doves: A Guide to the Pigeons and Doves of the World by David Gibbs, Eustace Barnes, & John Cox is superb- it covers the entire Columbiformes order magnificently.
The Handbook of the Birds of the World: Volume 4 Sandgrouse to Cuckoos.  This amazing (and very pricey but very worth it) volume covers all of the known information on all of the sandgrouse, pigeons, parrots, turacos, and cuckoos of the world.  If you have the money and love birds with a passion, get the entire set.
Handbook of the Birds of the World volume 2 New World Vultures to Guineafowl

The Handbook of the Birds of the World: Volume 2 New World Vultures to Guineafowl.  This volume covers the Falconiformes and the Galliformes.  Again, simply astonishing.
Handbook of the Bords of the World volume 13 Penduline-tits to Shrikes
The Handbook of the Birds of the World: Volume 13 Penduline-tits to Shrikes.  This volume covers the White-eyes and 15 other passerine families.  Again, the seminal work for these birds.











Handbook of the Birds of the World volume 15 Weavers to New World Warblers

The Handbook of the Birds of the World: Volume 15 Weavers to New World Warblers.  This volume covers the fodies and 6 other passerine families- again, simply amazing.












Handbook of the Birds of the World volume 6 Mousebirds to Hornbills

The Handbook of the Birds of the World: Volume 6 Mousebirds to Hornbills.  This volume covers the hornbills and other Coraciiformes, the mousebirds, and the trogons.











The Hornbills Oxford Bird Families of the World by Alan Kemp
The Hornbills by Alan Kemp is part of the incredible series on the bird families of the world by the Oxford University Press.  Hard to find since it's out of print and not cheap, but the best summary of the family available.











The Ecology and Conservation of Asian Hornbills: Farmers of the Forest by Margaret Kinnaird and Timothy O'Brien
The Ecology & Conservation of Asian Hornbills: Farmers of the Forest by Margaret Kinnaird and Timothy O'Brien is a very accessible book on Asian hornbill ecology and is well worth reading.












Manual to the Conservation of Asian Hornbills by Pilai Poonswad and Alan Kemp
Manual to the Conservation of Asian Hornbills, edited by Pilai Poonswad and Alan Kemp (the two biggest names in hornbill research globally) is an excellent book and is definitely written for the scientist or extremely enthusiastic enthusiast.





The Asian Hornbills: Ecology and Conservation by Pilai Poonswad
The Asian Hornbills: Ecology and Conservation, edited by Pilai Poonswad is another excellent book written for scientists and chock full of magnificent information about Asian hornbills.














small version
Raptors of the World by Ferguson-Lees and Christie
large version
Raptors of the World by James Ferguson-Lees and David Christie is an incredibly comprehensive collation of all of the raptors of the world.  It comes in two forms: a small (320 pages) version that is essentially a field guide, and a larger (992 pages) version with everything you could ever want to know about each species.  Be sure you are purchasing the one that you mean to get.

Parrots: A Guide to Parrots of the World by Tony Juniper
Parrots: A Guide to Parrots of the World by Tony Juniper and Mike Parr is a similarly wonderful book detailing all of our current knowledge about all of the world's parrots.
IUCN Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan for Parrots
If you're interested in Parrot conservation, then you need to get a copy of the IUCN Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan for Parrots to see what the status of conservation plans for these species is.
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3 comments:

  1. Hi Thomas,

    I enjoy going to the zoo since I was a kid. I'm glad that there are still a lot of zoos that exist around the globe despite all the theme parks available. There's nothing more wonderful than a taste of nature. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. The zoo is like the most interesting place I visited when I was a kid. I can't forget how amazed I was when I saw the peacock spread his tail feathers, I was like gosh!!!

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  3. I'm a huge fan of Chester zoo. It's pretty compact, and has had good on-going investment. My last visit was this summer (2011) with my sister's family. The elephants, apes, and cheetahs were our favourites. Highly recommended!

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