Rare pheasant hatches at Woodland Park Zoo

Rare Edwards' pheasant, 8 days old, hatched May 21, 2014

The latest resident of Woodland Park Zoo is a newly hatched Edwards’s pheasant, a species that is believed to be extinct in the wild.

The cute little chick (pictured right) is the first hatching of this species for the zoo.

The Edwards’s pheasant is extremely rare to see in zoos with only 15 individuals living in seven zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). The parents of the chick have called Woodland Park Zoo home since 2012.

“This is a very significant hatching for the species, particularly since its existence in the wild is questionable and there are so few living in zoos,” said Shawn Pedersen, a collection manager at Woodland Park Zoo. “As an extra precaution, our zookeepers are hand-rearing the chick to help ensure acceptable weight gains and closely monitor important milestones.”

The chick is now two weeks old and its sex will be revealed as it grows and develops. If it is male, it will grow blue-black feathers, and if it is female, it will be brown in color.

Locals can see the 6-year-old mother and 1-year-old father in the Conservation Aviary. The chick will soon be moved to another zoo to help boost the population of the species.

The Edwards’s pheasant hails from the rain forest area in central Vietnam. The species has not been spotted by conservationists in the wild since about 2000, and therefore has been declared critically endangered. An intensive search for the pheasants was undertaken in 2011 with no results.

It is believed that the species became extinct due to rampant deforestation from commercial logging and agriculture and due to hunting.

An international study on the Edwards’s pheasant is currently being maintained to ensure that the genetic and demographic history of each individual animal in zoos is being documented.

Photo courtesy of Woodland Park Zoo. Photo credit – Ryan Hawk.

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