Chester Successfully Breeds Endangered Insect

Leading world conservationists and beloved attraction Chester Zoo recently joined forces with the Welsh Dee Trust and Buglife Cymru to launch an emergency breeding programme for a critically endangered insert.

The yellow sally stonefly is so scarce that it was believed to be extinct. Now, Chester Zoo’s conservationists are the first team in Europe to become successful in breeding the endangered insect. After the stonefly was rediscovered in the river Dee, 28 years after it was declared extinct, Buglife Cymru urged Chester to join a rescue mission to prevent the species from facing extinction.

Two small colonies of the stonefly were found in the Dee and experts believe it is the last remaining location for the species in the UK. The Zoo worked alongside John Davy-Bowker, a freshwater invertebrate specialist, sampling and collecting some of the insects from their river habitat.

Aquarist at the zoo, Joe Chattell, commented:

“They were so few and, living for a period of just four to six weeks as adults, we really had no room for error in our efforts to save them. We had to learn as much as we could, as quickly as we could, to help them back from the brink.”

A total of 30 insects were transferred to the zoo’s facility, where its expert team began meticulously studying the stonefly during its lifecycle. Specialists believe this is the first time that the endangered species has been bred and reared successfully through its full lifecycle within a zoological environment.

Return to the News