Riga Zoo's best contribution to EEP populations is the breeding of Cinereous Vultures (European Black Vultures, Aegypius monachus). Two pairs are raising their young successfully at Riga Zoo and the Zoo's Affiliate Cīruļi. In 2014–2018, eight Cinereous Vulture young were raised, four of them in Riga, and four in Affiliate Cīruļi. The young vultures were used to form new breeding pairs within EEP. The two young vultures of 2018 were included in the Green Balkans project and released into the wild in Bulgaria.
Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) young at the age of 11 weeks at Riga Zoo, shortly prior to its sending to the reintroduction project in Bulgaria. – Photo: Sergejs Čičagovs
Riga Zoo supports the Northern Lynx (Lynx lynx lynx) reintroduction program in Poland, led by WWF-Poland. In 2009–2018 Riga Zoo sent eight young Lynxes to Kadzidłowo and Jabłonowo to be included in the breeding program.
Northern Lynx (Lynx lynx lynx) pair with a cub at the Zoo's Affiliate Cīruļi. – Photo: Māris Lielkalns
Since 2003 Riga Zoo supports the Grey Wolf (Canis lupus lupus) conservation project in Scandinavia, providing the captive breeding program with Grey Wolf young bred in Riga Zoo.
Grey Wolf (Canis lupus lupus) at the Zoo's Affiliate Cīruļi. – Photo: Elīna Gulbe
Riga Zoo has been participating in Partula EEP (European Endangered Species Program) since 2002. Riga Zoo breeds several Partula species that are already extinct in the wild: Partula tristis, P. varia, P. radiolata (up to 2008) and P. suturalis strigosa (since 2009). The best results were achieved with Partula varia. In 2017 Riga Zoo held 56% of the entire world population of this species. In 2017 we sent 190 P. varia specimens to the United Kingdom to be included in a reintroduction program in French Polynesia.
Partula snails Partula varia at Riga Zoo. – Photo: Sergejs Čičagovs
In 2007–2011, Riga Zoo participated in a joint project of Teiči Nature Reserve, Latvia, and German Wildlife Foundation (Deutsche Wildtier Stiftung), aimed at reinforcing the Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina) population in Germany. The project was conducted based on the cainism phenomenon. Cainism, or fratricide, is a survival adaptation characteristic of this eagle species – the eldest chick kills the younger one if a rich food source is not available. However, the phenomenon only occurs within the first weeks in eaglets' life. If the second chick is removed from the nest and hand-raised during the first weeks, later it can be placed in the parents' (or foster parents') nest and raised without being subjected to cainism. In 2007–2011, a total of 46 Lesser Spotted Eagle chicks from Latvia were hand-raised at Riga Zoo and sent to Germany for adoption in wild nests.
Publications (by other authors)
Meyburg B.-U., Bergmanis U., Langgemach T., Graszynski K., Hinz A., Borner I., Meyburg C., Vansteelant W.M.G. 2017. Orientation of native versus translocated juvenile lesser spotted eagles (Clanga pomarina) on the first autumn migration. Journal of Experimental Biology 220: 2765–2776.
Puppet-feeding of a Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina) chick at Riga Zoo. – Photo: Māris Lielkalns
Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina) chicks at Riga Zoo. – Photo: Sergejs Čičagovs
In 2014, responding to the Pallas's Cat (Felis manul) EEP initiative, along with another 10 zoos, Riga Zoo donated EUR 500 to support field studies on Pallas's Cats in Iran, Nepal and Mongolia.
Pallas's Cat (Felis manul). – Photo: Elīna Gulbe
In 2018, Riga Zoo is going to provide a donation to support the Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) conservation project in Zov Tigra National Park in Russian Far East. The project is implemented by the Phoenix Fund and funded by Kolmarden Zoo.
Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica). – Photo: Elīna Gulbe
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