Date: 05 Jun 2017
We have said a fond farewell to some of our animals this week as they have started their journeys to new homes.
Queenie, the three-year old, Malayan tapir started her journey to Port Lympne Wild Animal Park. Queenie was born to parents, Elmer and Gladys, who are one of the most successful breeding pairs of Malayan tapirs in Europe and have been together at Belfast Zoo since 1995. Their offspring have moved to zoos throughout the world, including London, Amsterdam, France, Germany and even as far as Denver.
Malayan tapirs are the only tapir from Asia and are found in Indonesia, Burma, Malaysia and Thailand. This incredible species faces a high risk of extinction, with studies estimating that the population could decline by up to 50% over the next 30 years. The main reasons for their decline are the destruction of their forest habitats and they are also hunted for meat and sport. It is vital that zoos play an active role in ensuring a viable captive population and central to this is our collaborative work through breeding programmes. Queenie will join a breeding male in her new home.
We also said goodbye to two of our young red-backed bearded saki monkeys. Belfast Zoo is one of only two zoos in the UK to care for these primates and we were the first zoo to breed this species in Europe. Our young pair were siblings that are now old enough to leave their parents and join a new group in Apenheul Primate Park in the Netherlands. Belfast Zoo is now home to a group of three red-backed bearded sakis.
Finally, our male bongo moved to Knowsley Safari Park. The Eastern bongo is critically endangered and is facing a high risk of extinction with only 140 believed to be left in the wild.
Zoo manager, Alyn Cairns, said “We are always sad to say goodbye to any of our animals especially those that have been born here, as they are part of the Belfast Zoo family. However, zoos exist for the greater purpose of conservation. We care for animals facing increasing threats in their natural environments and it is the role of zoos around the world to ensure the future of these species. We do this through collaborative breeding programmes. Breeding programmes are managed by studbook keepers. These individuals manage identified species, monitoring the population and making breeding recommendations based on genetics. We received recommendations for these moves to take place and we can’t wait to see all of our Belfast-born animals starting to welcome their own families in their new homes.”