Previous projects

Previous projects

Reintroduction of Interrupted brome, UK

Paignton Zoo contributed significantly to providing seed of this grass, which became extinct in the wild in the 1970s, for storage in the Millenium Seed Bank. After several years of increasing the number of individuals in cultivation in various botanic gardens around the UK a successful reintroduction was carried out in the early 2000s.

Ecology and conservation of the meadow thistle, UK

Meadow thistle (Cirsium dissectum) is a rare plant and a key species of Rhos pasture. Rhos pasture is a wet, heathy, semi-natural grassland found predominantly in Wales and southern England; it has suffered massive losses due to agricultural improvement, afforestation and inappropriate management. This PhD research project investigated the effect of population size and habitat quality on levels of genetic diversity and survival in meadow thistle and provided valuable information to managers of remaining sites.

Reintroduction of black rhino to Malawi

The black rhino is Critically Endangered throughout its range and became extinct in Malawi in the mid-1980’s due to poaching. A reintroduction programme was set up within Liwonde National Park in 1993 in cooperation with the South African Parks Board. The project was managed locally by the Endangered Wildlife Circle, a group of Malawi residents dedicated to wildlife conservation. Black rhino were successfully introduced into specially protected sanctuaries within the park, along with a range of other animals including buffalo, eland, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, roan antelope and common zebra. Paignton Zoo provided funding for antipoaching patrols, maintenance of infrastructure such as roads and vehicles and supplied a permanent water supply through boreholes. Due to the programme’s success in 2011 the decision was made to expand the programme to include the whole of Liwonde National Park.

Eco-tourism to save the red-fronted macaw, Bolivia

Newquay Zoo raised funds for the Asociacion Armonia (a local Bolivian wildlife charity) to help promote ‘eco-tourism’ to protect these rare and beautiful parrots. Their habitat has been a victim of deforestation and poverty so this project aimed to rejuvenate one area by building an ‘eco-lodge’ allowing visitors to the area to watch these macaws in their natural environment whilst contributing to their conservation and the local economy.

Research into pacarana, Colombia

The pacarana is a giant rodent found in the disappearing cloud forests of the Andes mountains. This fragile habitat is home to many unique species of animal and plant. Students of the University of Columbia, Bogota conduct research on this habitat and run a breeding programme which was supported by Newquay Zoo with funds and technical advice.

UNAU sloth project, Colombia

The continuation of deforestation in Columbia combined with its pet trade has had a detrimental effect on the lives of young sloths. Newquay Zoo’s experience of hand-rearing abandoned sloth babies meant it could provide UNAU staff with skills, knowledge, equipment and financial support to improve its rehabilitation and release project for these endangered animals.

Reintroduction of the socorro dove, Mexico

The Socorro dove, found only on the island of Socorro in the Pacific Ocean 600 miles off the coast of Mexico, was declared extinct in the wild in the early 1980s. Fortunately, these doves were still found in zoos and a European Endangered species Programme was set up. Paignton Zoo became involved in 2002 with the first chicks hatching here in 2003. The Island Endemics Foundation have now begun a programme to reintroduce the doves back to Socorro and in 2008, seven birds from Paignton Zoo and five from Edinburgh Zoo were sent to Albuquerque Zoo in New Mexico, USA, as a holding centre before re-introduction.

Cirl bunting translocations

The cirl bunting (Emberiza cirlus) is a charming relative of the yellowhammer that was once widespread and locally common across southern Britain. It suffered a massive decline during the 1970’s due to changes in farming practices.

The loss of nest sites and food sources has been highlighted as the main reasons for this decline. The remaining birds are now mostly confined to south Devon.

From 2006 to 2012 the WWCT worked with the RSPB on a translocation project releasing cirl buntings at suitable sites in Cornwall. Up to 70 birds have been released each year and many pairs have successfully bred in their new location. After 2012, no new translocations occurred as the Cornish population seemed to be self-sustaining.