A Swiss zoo has opened a new conservation centre for threatened bird species.
The zoo in Zurich in northern Switzerland said in a statement that it is “stepping up its commitment to species protection” as part of its development plan for 2050.
It said that “the completion of the ‘Ornis’ species protection centre was an important milestone” because it “creates the necessary infrastructure for the conservation breeding of threatened animal species”.
The zoo said that the centre is called “Ornis”, which is “derived from the ancient Greek word for bird” and is made up of “three different breeding facilities for endangered species and is located on the premises of the Zurich Zoo”.
While not accessible to zoo visitors, the zoo said it had rebuilt “the largest of the three Ornis facilities between November 2020 and November 2021 and has now put it into operation”, adding: “It is a modern facility that is fully geared towards successfully breeding endangered species.”
Breeders at the zoo will be able to “create different climatic conditions in the three building complexes”, the idea being to create the ideal conditions for “the successful breeding of various endangered animal species that are adapted to individual needs”.
The offspring of the endangered birds will serve as “reserve populations of their endangered wild relatives within the European conservation breeding programmes”, with the zoo stressing that they should, ” where possible”, also be released back into the wild.
The zoo said that it has restricted access to the facility, due to hygiene precautions. It said: “Until the processes in the new breeding stations have worked perfectly and the first breeding successes can be achieved, due to special hygienic precautions and so that animals that have recently arrived can settle in as quickly as possible, only trained personnel who are familiar with the animals have access to Ornis.
“The knowledge gained in Ornis can also help other institutions in the future to optimise their breeding efforts and successfully breed endangered species.”
Now the building is complete, the zoo will be able to increase the tempo of its rare species breeding programme. The zoo said: “With the completion of the new building in the species protection centre, the zoo has significantly increased its spatial capacities for breeding endangered species.
“Among other things, there are already bird species such as the channel-billed toucan (Ramphastos vitellinus), the Montserrat oriole (Icterus oberi) and the red siskin (Spinus cucullatus) in the breeding stations.”
And the zoo said that it expected more threatened species to move into the “species protection centre” in the coming months and years.
The zoo said: “Zurich Zoo has been actively involved in species protection for many years. We participate in reintroduction projects and breed endangered species. Among other things, the zoo recently sent young birds from the bald ibises bred in the zoo to a reintroduction project in Spain in 2021 . Since last year, Zurich Zoo has also been part of a reintroduction project for owls. As part of this, we will give future young birds to Austria to be released into the wild.
“Thanks to the new species protection centre, Zurich Zoo now has the opportunity to bring in other threatened animal species and make a contribution to their conservation.”
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