UK Zoo Continues Work With Bermuda Skinks

August 15, 2013

After finding themselves a new home in the Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom earlier this summer, the troubled Bermuda skink is getting a new chance at success as a species as zoo officials begin putting together a guide aimed at helping those with a hand in conservation services on the island to more easily breed and protect the highly endangered lizard.

Curators from the Chester Zoo returned 12 of the animals to their facility in July, aiming to study them in order to determine best practices in helping them to survive long into the future despite their heavily depleted numbers on the island. Now, with a month of general study behind them, the zoo’s experts will begin compiling something of a how-to guide concerning how best to rear and care for the lizards in captivity, aiming to help Bermudians with the same worthy goal to steer the creatures away from possible extinction.

The Bermuda skink, once plentiful on the island, has fallen victim to a combination of loss of habitat, the introduction of new predators such as cats and lizard-eating birds, and the general fragmentation of their populations. In order to combat these effects, local researchers are attempting to breed the skink in captivity, but not always to positive results; the upcoming guide to be produced by experts at the Chester Zoo aims to improve those results.

The six pairs of skinks currently residing at the Chester Zoo are just now entering their breeding season, and the UK team has set aside a year to study their habits and biology, and then microchip the lizards before they are released into the wild in order to track their survival rate.

Once ready, the results of the effort and the guide itself will be handed over to Bermuda’s Department of Conservation Services and the Bermuda Zoological Society in order to aid in their efforts to give the Bermuda skink a new lease on life.

Click here to visit the BBC’s Bermuda skink gallery of photographs

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