The next tank to the Potosi pupfish contains several species of its fairly close relatives, the Goodeids. Unlike the egg-laying pupfish, Goodeids are livebearers. In any aquarium shop you will find for sale many species and colour varieties of livebearers, such as guppies, platies, and swordtails, which have been the target for selective breeding by aquarists for many years. These belong to another related group, the Poeciliids.
As you enter the Aquarium at Bristol the first tank you meet is a display tank containing a few rather pretty little blue fish. These are male Potosi pupfish, a species of killifish sadly extinct in the wild. Originating in Mexico, from El Potosi in Nuevo Leon, they are examples of a group of species found all over the south west of North America, from Nevada down into Mexico, which are relicts of a very different environment to that experienced today. The group we have at Bristol were originally from London Zoo, and we and London are the only zoos on ISIS to have these species, with a total population of around 400 fish, although there are a few private breeders in Spain, Mexico and the US who also keep them.
Last Monday the zoo celebrated its 175th birthday with an evening picnic and hog roast, with a variety of stalls for the visitors. Fortunately we had great weather, so a great time was had by all. Bristol is actually the fifth oldest modern zoo in the world, and the oldest outside a capital city. The older ones run like this:
Vienna zoo – 1752
Madrid – 1775
Paris - 1795
London Zoo – 1828, but only opened to the public in 1843
This week I thought I would take a break from talking about animals and instead write about one of their more unusual predators. I grow a small collection of carnivorous plants and last week at Chester Zoo there was an international meeting of growers from all over Europe. As well as plants for sale, there were also great displays, including from the national collections of Sarracenia and Drosera, and I came away with three of the latter for my collection.
Last weekend was the Severn Counties annual summer coach trip. We often visit zoos, and this year we decided to try Exmoor Zoo in north Devon. A fairly small zoo, only set up in its current incarnation 8 years ago, it is situated down one of the typical narrow Devon lanes. An accident on the main road forced our coach to take a longer way round than usual, so the trip down took longer than expected.