Tallinn Zoo’s contribution to the resettlement of endangered species
In addition to managing artificial populations, zoos also help establish natural populations of endangered species. This is either financially supporting restoration projects or physically breeding animals and releasing them into the wild. Tallinn Zoo’s biggest contribution to the reintroduction of an endangered species has been the establishment of an island population of European mink in Hiiumaa.
The establishment of the European mink population in Hiiumaa started already in 2000 when 17 zoo bred minks were deported there. At first it was necessary to remove the American mink that had escaped from a farm and find out where the most suitable habitats for the Euopean mink are located.
Over the years, various methods have been used to introduce minks into the wild, but the best result has been the establishment of semi-natural enclosures in Hiiumaa and the release of young animals from there. In total, nearly 600 individuals have been released on the island, the last of them in 2016.
In order to maintain an overview of the progress of the European mink, regular monitoring is carried out in Hiiumaa in cooperation with SA Lutreola. Based on the monitoring results, it can be said that a stable European mink population consiting of 60-90 animals has developed in Hiiumaa.
In 2019 the European mink reintroduction project was also started in Saaremaa. The first minks arrived there in 2022.
Tallinn Zoo has also contributed to the bald eagle reintroduction project. In order to reproduce the species, we have a cooperation agreement with the Vulture Conservation Foundation, which contributes to the restoration of bald eagle population in the wild.
Since 2011 Ali and Akila have been lucky to have chicks eight times. Four chicks have been raised by zookeepers, and four have grown up under the care of bald eagle foster parents at the conservation center for endangered vultures in Haringsee, Austria. The bald eagle chicks hatching in Tallinn Zoo are crucial, because the transmission of the genetic material of the male bird living here is very important in increasing the genetic diversity of bald eagles.
Releasing the bald eagle chicks in Spain | VCF