A global conservation body has praised Paignton Zoo Environmental Park for its work raising thousands of pounds to protect birds.
BirdLife International is a partnership of conservation organisations working to conserve birds, habitats and biodiversity. Paignton Zoo is one of the organisation’s Species Champions, helping to fund bird conservation work around the globe.
Paignton Zoo’s free Animal Encounters bird show raises money for BirdLife International by collecting donations from visitors. Last year the show raised £2,715 through visitor donations. This year it raised £3,895.
Paignton Zoo Curator of Birds Jo Gregson told the Devon Week: “The natural rate of bird extinction is one bird per century. In the last thirty years alone, 21 bird species have become extinct. At present, 190 are classified as Critically Endangered. Paignton Zoo has an important bird collection and is a centre of expertise. We are very pleased to support BirdLife International as a Species Champion and to raise money and awareness through our bird show.”
The show is run by specialist animal handler Olga Maguire, supported by a team of nine Paignton Zoo volunteers. Jo Gregson: “The volunteers do a vital job helping with the show and collecting the money – we couldn’t do it without them!”
Paignton Zoo Education Officer Rob Lovell said: “Our Animal Encounters show has a strong conservation message – as well as talking about individual bird species and their abilities, we talk about the work of Birdlife International. There were hundreds of shows during the season, with thousands of people hearing the message. Olga, the volunteers and the birds have done a great job raising money in a difficult year.”
Jim Lawrence, from the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme, said: “We are extremely grateful. I never cease to be impressed by the innovative ideas our Species Champions have that raise money to help us save threatened birds and biodiversity, but Paignton Zoo’s Animal Encounters bird show is surely the most novel.”
BirdLife International launched the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme to prevent more species being lost. Paignton Zoo has been a Species Champion for two years.
Jim said: “Around the world our conservation experts are working in some very difficult conditions and it gives them a great boost to learn of the commitment of the people working so hard to support them. With support we’ve received from you and our other sponsors we have now been able to put conservation action in place for 47 Critically Endangered bird species throughout the world.”