Thanks to conservation efforts, the tequila splitfin fish has returned to Mexico after not being seen for over 15 years.
Conservationists from the zoo and the Michoacana University of Mexico are helping these tiny fish to stage a REVIVAL!
The tequila fish (Zoogoneticus tequila), a small species of goodied fish which grow no bigger than 70mm long, disappeared from the wild completely in 2003 due to the introduction of invasive, exotic fish species and water pollution.
Now, conservationists at the zoo and the Michoacana University of Mexico have teamed up to return OVER 1500 fish to a series of springs in the Teuchitlán River in the state of Jalisco in south west Mexico.
In 1998, at the outset of the project, scientists at the Michoacana University of Mexico received five pairs of fish from us. These 10 fish founded a new colony in the university’s laboratory, which experts there then maintained and expanded over the next 15 years.
In preparation for the reintroduction, 40 males and 40 females from the colony were released into large, artificial ponds at the university. After four years, this population was estimated to have increased to 10,000 individuals and became the source for the reintroduction to the wild.
“It is a real privilege to have helped save this charismatic little fish and it just goes to show that species can make a comeback from environments where they were once lost.”
Dr Gerardo Garcia, Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates.
Gerardo, our Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates, says:
“This is an important moment in the battle for species conservation. It is a real privilege to have helped save this charismatic little fish and it just goes to show that with the skill and expertise of conservationists, and with local communities fully invested in a reintroduction project, species can make a comeback from environments where they were once lost.
“This is also a great example of how good zoos can play a pivotal role in species conservation. Not only have we been involved technically and financially, the breeders, which became the founding population for the reintroduction of the tequila spitfin, originated at Chester Zoo. Without the zoo population keeping the species alive for many years, this fish would have been lost forever.
“Following years of hard work by our partners at the Michoacana University of Mexico, the wild population is, thankfully, now thriving – they’re breeding naturally at a tremendous rate. It very much goes to show that animals can re-adapt to the wild when reintroduced at the right time and in the right environments. Our mission is to prevent extinction and that’s exactly what we’ve done here.”
The project has been cited as an International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) case study for successful global reintroductions – with recent scientific studies confirming the fish are thriving and already breeding in the river.
Experts say it has created a blueprint for future reintroductions of other highly endangered fish species, with a rescue mission for another, the golden skiffia (Skiffia francesae), now well underway.