The zoo of EDINBURGH Zoo is playing a very important role in a bid to save one of the world’s rarest birds: the Socorro dove.

Only a few birds did survive in private collections in Britain and Germany, where breeding pairs have been formed to help sustain a population in danger on extinction.

Edinburgh Zoo became interested and began following a breeding program in 2005. They had three mature birds, ready to mate. And they did have real good success: 14 little chicks have been born!

The Scots birds form an extremely important part of the pure-bred global bird population: there is about less than 100 of them left!

Edinburgh Zoo has a head bird keeper, Mr Colin Oulton. He said the offspring could be the first Socorro doves to be returned to their ancestor’s home in the wild.

Last month, five of these birds were flown from Edinburgh to California. The doves have now been transferred to Albuquerque’s Zoo located in New Mexico. The birds will form the first population outside Europe and will free up space in European collections for further breeding in the future.

“Breeding Socorro doves can be tricky, as the males are notoriously aggressive in their pursuit of mates”, said Mr Oulton.