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Endangered bird takes flight in Singapore move

For the first time in almost two years, Paignton Zoo has moved one of its animals internationally as part of a breeding programme. The wrinkled hornbill, an Endangered species of bird, moved to Jurong Bird Park, Singapore, this week after more than a year of preparations.

Steve Nash, Head of Campaigns and Programmes said: “As we have now left the EU the process has changed for moving animals both within the EU and internationally. This has increased the level of administration required and also increased the time to co-ordinate an animal move, ultimately resulting in far fewer animal moves when comparing to pre-Brexit.

The two-year-old female hornbill was hatched at Paignton Zoo in April 2020 and is the offspring of the zoo’s other female bird. She is an important part of the studbook for the species, which keeps track of all of zoo-based members of a species across the world.

The preparations for an overseas move over 6,000 miles away were far from simple. Due to the presence of avian influenza in the UK, overseas bird moves were put on hold until early 2022. Since then, both Paignton Zoo and Jurong Bird Park have been making preparations – from testing and quarantining to making arrangements for the flight. The bird was driven to London Heathrow before taking the 13 hour flight to Singapore.

Sarah Lavin, Paignton Zoo Zoological Registrar and EAZA Ex-Situ Breeding Programme (EEP) Co-ordinator for the species, stated:

“This hornbill is a genetically important female within the studbook, and is going to be paired with a suitable male for breeding. There are currently only 48 wrinkled hornbills within the EEP-managed population, so any successful pairings are great news.”

This move is important for the Endangered species, which faces threats in the wild due to heavy deforestation of their native range. The move will also open the opportunity for Paignton Zoo to introduce a male wrinkled hornbill to their remaining female, potentially allowing for a further pairing. For further updates on this be sure to give their Facebook page a follow.