07/01/2022

Bristol Zoo Gardens leads global fight to save rare stick insects

We are spearheading an international campaign to save the Critically Endangered Lord Howe Island stick insect.

Keepers have successfully bred a fifth generation of the distinctive insects to help sustain their population.

We have been helping in the fight to save these animals since 2015, when a number of them were sent from Melbourne Zoo, and is the only zoo outside Australia to have bred them.

Mark Bushell, Curator of Invertebrates and Aquarium at Bristol Zoo Gardens, said: “This is an amazing achievement and we are really proud of this work.”

Lord Howe Island stick insects were driven to the brink of extinction by black rats in the early 20th century. 

Then in 2001 they were rediscovered on Balls Pyramid, a rat-free volcanic outcrop 14 miles off the coast of Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea, between Australia and New Zealand. That triggered the work to breed them and to maintain a global population.

Mr Bushell said breeding the insects was intricate and required a lot of care and patience.

Their eggs incubate up to six months before hatching. When they emerge, the young nymphs are bright green in colour and become darker as they grow, eventually turning a dark brown or black.

Mr Bushell said: “Our focus for years has been on conservation and this project illustrates how we can make a difference to a species’ survival, as part of our work to save wildlife.”

He said this important work would continue both at Bristol Zoo Gardens and at the new Bristol Zoo when it opens in 2024, on the site of Bristol Zoological Society’s Wild Place Project.

Now’s your last chance to visit before the Zoo’s last day 03.09.22

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Now’s your last chance to visit before the Zoo’s last day 03.09.22