If only zoos had existed in the time of the dodo, it may not be extinct today.

Good zoos are powerful forces for conservation and some of the world’s most extraordinary and most threatened species would not be surviving without them. The British and Irish Association for Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) - which promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums - has compiled a list of the top ten species most reliant on zoos in the UK and Ireland, and Newquay Zoo holds one of the species mentioned.

Stewart Muir, Zoo Director said; ‘‘We hold blue crowned laughing thrushes in our Tropical House, and visitors really enjoy listening to their beautiful voices and watching them dart in and out of the open fronted rainforest exhibit. These lovely birds are classed as Critically Endangered, and there are less than 250 mature birds left in the wild. It is vital for their survival that they are held by good zoos that provide safe, managed environments in which they can thrive. By releasing this list, BIAZA is acknowledging the amazing work done by member zoos for threatened species.’’

Dr Andrew Marshall, a member of BIAZA’s Field Programmes Committee, who co-ordinated the compilation of the list with input from conservation experts based at BIAZA zoos, said: “This list highlights ten prevailing examples of how zoos are working to save these and many other species from extinction. Without the valuable conservation and breeding work of many of our member zoos and aquariums, many ‘at risk’ species such as these may be lost to extinction forever.”

The criteria for selecting the top ten included choosing species associated with ongoing field initiatives by zoos. Species chosen are currently listed as Endangered, Critically Endangered or Extinct in the Wild on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, and priority was given to species conservation projects that include habitat protection, education and livelihood development.

BIAZA’s top ten species most reliant on zoos are:

  • Blue-crowned laughing thrush – only 250 mature birds of this Chinese species left in the wild. 23 zoos in Britain, including Newquay, hold this species.
  • Mountain chicken – one of the world’s largest species of frog and Critically Endangered.
  • White-clawed crayfish – around 95% of the population of Britain’s only native freshwater crayfish have been lost.
  • Amur leopard – fewer than 45 of these big cats left in the wild.
  • Potosi pupfish – this freshwater fish is Extinct in the Wild.
  • Polynesian tree snail – 11 species of Polynesian tree snails are Extinct in the Wild.
  • Verdcourt's polyalthia tree – this Critically Endangered species has only been found in three locations in the Kilombero valley in Tanzania.
  • Blue-eyed black lemur – this lemur is Critically Endangered due to large scale habitat loss and hunting.
  • Ploughshare tortoise – one of the most threatened and sought after reptiles in the illegal pet trade.
  • Scimitar-horned oryx – this antelope is Extinct in the Wild and dependent on captive breeding

To learn more about BIAZA please click here.

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