From five billion to zero: the passenger pigeon – and other beautiful animals driven to extinction

General Article icon Type: General Article

By Oliver Smith, Digital Travel Editor

Here are ten iconic species no longer on Earth, largely thanks to humans.

1. Passenger pigeon

A nomadic bird that could reach speeds in excess of 60mph, the passenger pigeon was once across North America, from the Great Plains to the Atlantic Coast. At the height of their population they numbered up to five billion, making them the most populous species of bird on the planet.   


That was until the arrival of Europeans, who hunted them on an industrial scale for cheap meat. Tens of millions were slaughtered each year and the last wild passenger pigeon was seen in 1901. Cincinnati Zoo was home to the last captive bird, Martha, which died exactly 103 years ago (1 September, 1914)...

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