LONDON, June 21 (Xinhua) -- England's Chester Zoo has provided a safe haven for almost 100 rare and exotic birds after they were seized from an illegal wildlife trade in Europe.
The birds were destined to be illegally sold as pets, if they hadn't already perished before reaching their final destination, but were seized by customs officials as part of a collaboration to crack down on the trade.
The rescued birds, from 14 under threat species, have been given a safe new home in the zoo's habitats.
Among the birds now enjoying life at Chester Zoo are acrobatic orange-cheeked waxbills, native to western and central Africa, scaly-breasted bulbul, and fire-tufted barbet, named for the tufts of feathers above the beak.
The birds at Chester Zoo will now play a crucial role in boosting safety net numbers of each species as part of international breeding programs, managed by the zoo and the global conservation community.
Mike Jordan, Collections Director at Chester Zoo, said: "Thousands of illegally smuggled birds die in squalid conditions during their traumatic journeys across the globe, fuelling the illegal wildlife trade."
"We are pleased to be able to offer these beautiful, precious surviving birds a suitable home, where they will contribute to breeding programs for threatened species -- and will help to inform our zoo visitors about the illegal wild bird trade."
Chester Zoo is at the forefront of the global conservation community's efforts to fight the illegal bird trade. Its Singing For Songbirds campaign has raised thousands of dollars for conservation breeding aviaries in South East Asia, while zoo education teams have been working with schools in the region to raise awareness of the issue.