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Extinct in the Wild

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Animal Updates | Birds | Conservation | Volunteering

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Hugh

Extinct in the Wild
Female Guam Micronesian Kingfisher at the Aquarium of the Pacific.  | Hugh Ryono

The Guam Micronesian Kingfisher

It sometimes gives me the chills when I see these two beautiful birds during my Aquarium volunteer shift. The Guam Micronesian Kingfisher is extinct in the wild. Their only hope for survival as a species are the one hundred or so individuals at zoos and aquariums. These few survivors are part of a last ditch effort breeding program. The two Kingfishers at the Aquarium of the Pacific are part of that program. When I look at them I feel like I’m seeing living ghosts.

The Guam Kingfisher once flourished on the Pacific Island of Guam. Their population was decimated from predation by the introduced, nonnative brown treesnake. Less than 50 individuals remained when the decision was made to bring these survivors into zoological facilities before they were completely gone. A breeding program was established for the remaining birds. If successful the plan is for eventual reestablishment of a wild population.

The Kingfishers at the Aquarium gives me a chill when I think about how few of these birds remain. But I also get a sense of hope when I realize that there are zoological facilities like the Aquarium of the Pacific willing to work together to try to save them.

The next time you’re at the Aquarium take a look at the Kingfishers. You’ll be seeing one of the rarest birds in the world. And perhaps the Adam and Eve of a future reestablished wild population of Guam Kingfishers.

Extinct in the Wild
Male Guam Micronesian Kingfisher at the Aquarium of the Pacific.  | Hugh Ryono

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