A zoo keeper in Devon is travelling to Mauritius to help set up a breeding station for endangered birds.
Paignton Zoo’s senior bird keeper, Tom Tooley will be taking part in a two month long expedition to build a breeding station for the endangered pink pigeon of Mauritius.
Mr Tooley has worked at Paignton Zoo for 16 years and the majority of that time has been spent working with the pigeons.
Having never taken part in anything like this before, Mr Tooley said: “It’s going to be an experience.
“Bringing a chick through is satisfying, it’s rewarding. It’s not easy – you need to be patient, precise and very well organised.”
Mr Tooley will be working alongside the Mauritius Foundation for Wildlife in preparing the aviaries for the new birds.
Mr Tooley’s speciality is hand-rearing and he will be working the field and sharing his skills.
Before deforestation in Mauritius, the pink pigeon, scientifically named Nesoenas Mayeri, was thought to be very common.
Since 1840 the pink pigeon has been regarded as rare and in 1990 it was thought that only around ten pigeons were still in the wild.
The population has now grown and there are currently around 400 free living pink pigeons living in Mauritius. The pink pigeon has a reputation of being very aggressive and therefore each bird needs its own aviary.
Pigeons are considered to be clumsy birds and poor nest builders, which supplies a challenge for any aviculturist.