This year at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, birds will be raising money for their threatened wild cousins.

Winged Wonders, provided by the Devon Bird of Prey Centre, runs through the season until Sunday 2nd September. Birds you might see this year include Dink, a 7-year-old American kestrel; 4-year-old barn owl Breeze; and Sol, a Mexican Harris hawk. It’s hoped that an eagle owl will appear, too.

This year, the show will collect donations for the Silent Forest campaign, organised by the body that represents top zoos across Europe and focussing on the Asian songbird crisis. 

Paignton Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling said: “Songbirds in South East Asia have become threatened due to some excessive and culturally deep-rooted demands. The birds are taken because of the craze for bird-singing competitions, as pets or status symbols, for export, traditional medicine and even food. 

“Demand for songbirds in South East Asia is extremely high, affecting hundreds of species and involving millions of individual birds, annually. The trade is often illegal and unsustainable; many areas of pristine forest have fallen silent in recent years as the birds have been collected and removed.”

The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria Silent Forest Campaign runs until September 2019 and aims to raise awareness of the issue and raise funds to try and conserve the remaining populations of wild birds. 

Money donated at Winged Wonders shows will go towards funding field projects in South East Asia. Paignton Zoo and Newquay Zoo are both supporting the campaign. Asian songbirds are a key feature of Newquay Zoo's Gems of the Jungle exhibit, with the recently arrived Javan green magpie being a particular rarity. This is the species shown on the Silent Forest logo.

The free displays, supported by Paignton Zoo volunteers, are at 1.00pm, 2.00pm and 3.30pm, Thursday to Tuesday outside of school holidays and seven days a week during school holidays. Last year Winged Wonders volunteers donated 1,529 hours and collected over £4,400 from guests. The money went to support Paignton Zoo’s work in Vietnam with the elusive Edwards’ pheasant. Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a registered charity. 

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