Weaver news

Weaver Wednesday [168] - Discovery [51]: Zanzibar Bishop

2015-09-02 (665)

gravit8 Weaver Wednesday (species text)

Zanzibar Bishop Euplectes nigroventris

Zanzibar Bishop
Zanzibar Bishop,
figure from Cassin 1849
Zanzibar Bishop
Zanzibar Bishop,
figure from Bowen 1931
Zanzibar Bishop map
Zanzibar Bishop
distribution, type locality circled


The Zanzibar Bishop was formally described by John Cassin, an American ornithologist and curator of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences.

It is not known who collected the Zanzibar Bishop. The earliest record of the type specimen is in the possession of Victor Massena, Duc de Rivoli, Prince d'Esling, a French amateur ornithologist living in Paris. Rivoli had a large collection of birds, about 12500 specimens, which were bought by the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, formerly the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (ANSP), the oldest natural science research institution and museum in the New World.

The collection arrived in Philadelphia in September 1846 (Stone 1899) and Cassin described many of these specimens as new bird species, including the Zanzibar Bishop.

The first illustration of a Zanzibar Bishop is a colour painting published by Cassin 1849. The second illustration was published some 80 years later, a black and white photo of a nest and specimen by Bowen 1931.

Scientific citation

Euplectes nigroventris Cassin 1848 Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, 4, p.66, Zanzibar Island.

Meaning of names

nigriventris - Latin: niger, black; venter, ventris, the belly.

First English name

Black-throated Bishop-bird (Gurney 1881).

Alternate names

Black-bellied Bishop, Black-bellied Grenadier, Black-bellied Weaver, Black-throated Bishop-bird, Black-vented Widowbird, Ukamba Red Bishop, Zanzibar Red Bishop, Zanzibar Red Weaver.


Unknown, part of the Rivoli collection.

Date collected

Before 1846, but date unknown.

Locality collected

Zanzibar Island.

Type specimens

ANSP 14301 in Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.