THE wife of a former leading zoologist has donated an important collection of rare, dead animals to Scottish museums.

Her gift to the National Musuems of Scotland comprises priceless genetic samples, which will aid research.

Among the rare specimens are endangered mammal and bird species including Rodrigues fruit bats, Bali starlings, Mauritius pink pigeons and Madagascar teals.

The "frozen zoo" arrived courtesy of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, an organisation set up by Gerald Durrell, the late author and pioneer of captive breeding programmes at the zoo he established on the Channel Island of Jersey. His wife Lee brought the samples into Edinburgh on a private plane last Thursday.

Dr Andrew Kitchener, principal curator of birds and mammals at the National Museums of Scotland, said: "Some of these animals were originally ones caught in the wild by Durrell and his colleagues. Now they can tell us what the original founder population was like and they can tell us how they have changed over time."