Zoo to focus on six species facing extinction

A picture of Olanna, a blue-eyed black lemur. She is seen crouching on a branch, and has orange fur and large blue eyes.
Olanna is one of two critically-endangered blue-eyed black lemurs living at Bristol Zoo Project [Bristol Zoological Society]

The charity behind Bristol Zoo Project has pledged to help save 97 species that are on the brink of extinction.

The animals include small creatures such as birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians, as well as bigger species like gorillas, giraffe and lemurs.

Of these Bristol Zoological Society will champion six species, including blue-eyed black lemurs - a male and female pair of which already live at Bristol Zoo Project.

The charity will support conservation projects across the world involving those six species.

Brian Zimmerman, the society's director of conservation and science, said they had chosen "neglected species" that need a champion "to save them from extinction".

As well as the critically-endangered lemurs which the charity is working to protect in Madagascar, the new programme focuses on the turquoise dwarf gecko found in Tanzania, the Philippine's' Negros bleeding heart dove, the Ankarafa skeleton frog from Madagascar and the Corfu toothcarp from Greece.

The scheme also features one endangered species native to the UK - the white-clawed crayfish, which the society already runs a captive breeding and reintroduction programme for.

Mr Zimmerman said the society was working in nine countries across four continents, adding: "Every species on this list needs our help to survive."

A close-up picture of a person's hand, holding a small, dark brown crayfish between their thumb and forefinger.
The white-clawed crayfish is the only native British creature in the pledge [Bristol Zoological Society]

He said the six species highlighted by the charity "reflect the range of countries we work in and are from very small geographical locations, where with local partners, we work to save them from extinction."

A new conservation area is also going to be created at the Bristol Zoo Project site to the north west of the city.

A picture of a turquoise dwarf gecko, pictured sitting on a large green leaf. The gecko is a bright turquoise and is pictured sitting on a long green leaf.
The turquoise dwarf gecko from Tanzania is one of the six species championed in the scheme [Bristol Zoological Society]

The first phase is set to start in the coming months, and will see the creation of a new Central African forest habitat which will become home to the zoo's existing western lowland gorillas.

The gorillas will be joined by cherry-crowned mangabey, slender-snouted crocodiles, African grey parrots and several species of West African freshwater fish - all of which are classified as threatened or endangered.

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