Hollywood megastar Leonardo DiCaprio heaps praise on Chester Zoo for ‘bringing fish back from the dead’
Leo's a big fan of the Cheshire tourist attraction.
Actual Leonardo DiCaprio has publicly praised Chester Zoo for its conservation work, which saw a fish species ‘brought back from the dead’.
The Oscar-winning megastar and keen environmentalist posted on Instagram to his 55.6m followers to talk about golden skiffia fish.
The fish species hasn’t been seen in its native central-western Mexico since the 1990s, but 1,200 were successfully bred and released into the Teuchitlan River this month.
The reintroduction of the fish coincided with the country’s Day of the Dead celebrations.
Leo wrote: “This year’s Day of the Dead celebrations included a unique ‘resurrection’ in Jalisco, Mexico, where conservationists released more than 1,000 Golden Skiffia into the fish’s native range in the Teuchitlán River.
“The freshwater fish had not been documented in the wild since the late 1990s. The events, in the midst of Mexico’s #DayoftheDead celebrations, included formal speeches, traditional dances and the official release of the fish.
“Bringing the species back from the ‘dead’ is the result of collaborative conservation work between Michoacan University of Mexico, @chesterzoo, the Goodeid Working Group and @Shoal_Org (a program of @Rewild and @synchearth).”
Paul Bamford, regional programme manager for Latin America at Chester Zoo, added: “This project is a great example of how zoos can contribute to conservation in the field through conservation breeding and research, utilising the skills and experience that have been developed in zoos to help strengthen existing and new wild populations.
“By supporting freshwater conservation in Mexico and the ecosystems where the fish live, we’re not only protecting biodiversity and the wellbeing of freshwater environments, but also the people and communities that live alongside them.”
Omar Domínguez-Domínguez, a professor and researcher from the Michoacan University of Mexico, who is leading the golden skiffia reintroduction, said: “The Day of the Dead is a traditional Mexican celebration, when it is believed that people’s deceased ancestors return to the land of the living for one night, to talk and spend time with their families.
“Releasing the golden skiffia at this time is a metaphor for how the species has come back from the dead to return to its home, not for one night, but forever.
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“Releasing this species back into the wild is a light of hope for this wonderful family of fishes – the goodeids – and for the conservation of freshwater fish more generally. Knowing that universities, zoos and aquarists can come together to fix some of what has been destroyed and return to nature some of what has been lost is an amazing thing.”
The skaffia was pushed to extinction by dam construction, water extraction, pollution and the introduction of invasive species.
Conservationists hope that the fish being released will ultimately result in a healthy, self-sustaining population that can fulfil its important natural role in the ecosystem of eating algae and mosquito larvae, which helps keep populations of those species in check.
Featured image: Sony Pictures