Chester Zoo Has Hatched Two Chicks From A Species Of Bird That Was Declared Extinct 47 Years Ago

By Laura O'Neill

Good news for the bird world! Two chicks from a species that was declared extinct nearly 50 years ago have hatched at Chester Zoo.

A spokesman for the zoo said the Soccoro dove chicks hatched on November 7 and were raised by ‘foster parents’ – a pair of barbary doves, due to the adult Socorro doves’ poor track record of incubating eggs and raising their own chicks.

The Soccoro dove, which originates from Socorro Island near Mexico, vanished from the wild completely in 1972. And the introduction of sheep, which ate plants the doves depended on for food and shelter, and invasive species such as cats that preyed upon the birds, are believed to be the main factors behind their demise.

Now, there are fewer than 200 Socorro doves in the world, all of which exist entirely in zoos, with just 23 in the UK. The species is part of a European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), which is working to maintain a genetically viable population of the Socorro dove with the ultimate aim of returning the birds to their native habitat.


Photo: Chester Zoo

Currently, work is being carried out on Socorro Island to try and create safe areas for future reintroduction of the doves.

Andrew Owen, the zoo’s Curator of Birds, said:

“Zoos in Europe, the USA and Mexico have, for some time, been breeding Socorro doves as part of a globally managed programme which is working to return them to their ancestral home.

“These chicks are significant additions to the recovery programme for the Socorro dove. It’s rather humbling to think that they could play an important role in one day seeing the species fly around the island of Soccoro once again.”