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Zoo vows to save near-extinct parrots

PUBLISHED: 18:51 12 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:11 12 July 2010

Banham Zoo's latest and most colourful arrivals have shocked staff by suddenly being classified endangered - but staff are aiming to save the species.

The zoo received two sun conure parrots in June, thinking at the time that the birds were common in their native South America.

Banham Zoo's latest and most colourful arrivals have shocked staff by suddenly being classified endangered - but staff are aiming to save the species.

The zoo received two sun conure parrots in June, thinking at the time that the birds were common in their native South America.

However, since then, the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has officially labelled them an endangered species.

It is now thought there may be just one flock remaining in the wild, found in Guyana, containing as few as 200 birds.

Numbers of the brightly-coloured creatures have dwindled because of illegal trapping, as birds can be sold for profit as pets.

“The news came as a real surprise as there had been no indication that the species was in such trouble,” said animal manager Mike Woolham.

“Banham Zoo has held sun conures for a number of years now and we have had considerable breeding success which I am sure we will be able to achieve again.”

The two birds were received this summer from a specialist parrot zoo in Lincolnshire, and joined an existing pair at Banham

Soon the group of four will have a lot more company.

Before the end of the month another 10 birds are due to arrive, which the zoo is hoping will form the basis of a breeding group that can bolster numbers of the endangered species.

The parrots can be seen in the Bird Garden at Banham Zoo.

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