This beautiful bird is sadly extinct in the wild, making it one of the rarest species at Chester Zoo.
This dove originally lived on the remote island of Socorro, off the west coast of Mexico, but they became extinct there in the 1970’s. Like many island bird species, Socorro Doves are often very tame and naïve, having no or few natural predators and no fear of people.
These birds became Extinct in the Wild due to predation by introduced rats and domestic cats, which were brought to the island as pets by the Mexican Navy. At the same time, their woodland habitat was being badly damaged through grazing by feral sheep and goats, which also ate newly sprouting tree seedlings.
Thankfully a small population of Socorro Doves were kept in aviaries outside of Socorro and a European Endangered Species Breeding Programme has been established. Chester Zoos birds play an extremely important role in this by helping to maintain a healthy breeding population in Zoos.
Meanwhile, on the island of Socorro the goats and sheep have been now been removed and there is a re-planting scheme to help the forests regenerate. Once the cats have been removed, we will be in a position to return some of our Chester bred birds back to their natural environment. You can see our precious Socorro Doves in the Tropical Realm aviaries.