A rare species of duck on the brink of extinction has been bred at a UK zoo.

Around 30 Baer’s pochard ducklings have hatched at Chester Zoo – the same number thought to be living in the wild.

The species is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as critically endangered, as a result of hunting and loss of its habitat.

Native to Siberia and Eastern Asia, where they were once found in their tens of thousands, experts fear the ducks could soon vanish altogether.

Curator of birds, Andrew Owen said:

 “We’re perilously close to losing this species in the wild and that’s why our recent hatchlings are very, very important indeed. They’re without doubt some of the rarest ducks in the world. 

“Thirty Baer’s pochards have been bred here this breeding season and while it’s good news in the sense that it’s a record for us, rather frighteningly, there may only be similar numbers left in the wild. 

“Our very talented bird team have given all our ducklings a helping hand, rearing them under close watch to make sure they make it through to adulthood. With a species that’s so rare, it’s imperative we get as many through to that stage as possible.

“Hopefully these little ducklings will start to rear their own young next year and, beyond that, a European-wide breeding programme in zoos and bird parks could be what saves the species from extinction.”

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