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Seven critically endangered 'Edward's Pheasant' chicks have been born at Paultons family theme park in Hampshire.
While the Giant Panda is commonly perceived to be the rarest creature on the planet with a wild population of 1,600, the wild population of Edward Pheasants is believed to stand at just 250, though the species could be extinct after confirmed sightings of the rare bird ceased several years ago.
Geoff Masson, livestock manager at Paultons Park, commented: "It is truly a wonder of nature to see these little chicks thriving here at Paultons when there is every possibility their species has become extinct in the wild. We will be keeping a very close eye on them."
Edward's Pheasants come from Vietnam where their population was decimated during the Vietnam War in the early 1960s. The war saw large areas of the bird's natural habitat destroyed by napalm bombs, while the logging industry later caused deforestation, leading the species into further decline.
Four of the seven chicks are on show and can been seen with the park's parent pheasants in an aviary in John's Garden while the other three chicks hatched in an incubator and are being reared out of the public eye.
When fully grown it is hoped the chicks will be able to join a specialist breeding programme with the aim of releasing Edward's Pheasants back into the wild.
The family theme park is also host to a Socorro Dove which has been certified as extinct in the wild and is housed in the Tropical House in the Japanese Garden.