Above: Black-browed barbet is just one of the 14 species given a safe home by Chester Zoo after being rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. This colourful species has a scattered distribution across South-East Asia


ALMOST 100 RARE and exotic birds that were seized from the illegal wildlife trade in Europe have found a new home at Chester Zoo.

The zoo has provided a safe haven for 14 species that were destined to be illegally sold as pets. They include the Near-Threatened scaly-breasted bulbul (Pycnonotus squamatus); red avadavat (Amandava amandava); Napoleon weaver (Euplectes afer); black-browed (Megalaima oorti) and fire-tufted barbet (Psilopogon pyrolophus); and common waxbill (Estrilda astrild).

The birds were seized by EU customs officials as part of a crack down on the illegal wildlife trade, which is worth around £14 billion annually. Hundreds of bird species are being illegally taken from the wild in Africa, South America and South-East Asia and transported, often in cramped conditions, to be sold in Europe.

Mike Jordan, collections director at Chester Zoo, said: “Thousands of illegally smuggled birds die in squalid conditions during their traumatic journeys across the globe, fuelling the illegal wildlife trade. We are pleased to be able to offer these beautiful, precious surviving birds a suitable home, where they will contribute to breeding programmes for threatened species – and will help to inform our zoo visitors about the illegal wild bird trade.”

The new arrivals at Chester Zoo will play a crucial role in boosting safety-net numbers of each species as part of international breeding programmes that are managed by the zoo.

For more information on Chester Zoo, visit: www.chesterzoo.org

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