Saving Species

Saving Species

In 1987, only 21 Guam Rails remained after their population was nearly driven to extinction by an invasive species. The Guam Rails were rescued and brought into human care in a last ditch effort to save the species. Several of the rails made their way to a limited number of Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoos in the United States. In human care, experts developed standards for caring for and breeding this species, collaborating to share insights and ensure the genetic stability of this small population of Guam Rails. Over 30 years later, populations of Guam Rails that had been in the care of AZA facilities are thriving in the wild on islands near Guam.

This success was possible because of the Guam Rail Species Survival Plan® (SSP). SSP Programs enable AZA member institutions to collaborate on the care and breeding of species, share best practices, and work together to keep the genetics of species in human care diverse and healthy. SSP Programs work under the supervision of a Taxon Advisory Group to coordinate efforts among AZA member institutions and with worldwide conservation partners. More than 80 species at the National Aviary are part of an SSP Program.

SSP Programs have been critical to the conservation of species like Guam Rails, which is only the second bird species to move from being Extinct in the Wild to Critically Endangered. Through participation in the SSP, the National Aviary was able to raise more Guam Rails than any other North American AZA-accredited facility, and many of the birds raised at the National Aviary are now living in the wild.

Guam Kingfishers, a species which, like the Guam Rail very nearly went extinct, now has a chance at returning to the wild as their population in human care grows. The African Penguin SSP has helped AZA member institutions maintain a healthy population of penguins at a time when the species is declining in the wild.

A newly hatched Guam Kingfisher, a species that is extinct in the wild, receives a wellness checkup from National Aviary veterinary staff.

In The News

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10 things to do with kids this week in Pittsburgh, from a tropical escape to a hot cocoa hike | Kidsburgh

Take the kids on a tropical retreat to the National Aviary, where bright macaws fly in a lush rainforest and flamingos pose in the wetlands habitat.

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Pet Tales: Aviary Welcomes New Chick | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

There’s a new penguin in town, but this one doesn’t swing a hockey stick.

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National Aviary offering in-person, virtual programming | TribLIVE

Travel may not be an option right now because of the coronavirus, but visiting the National Aviary can make you feel like you’re on a tropical retreat!

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National Aviary Welcomes First Chick of the Year | WTAE - ABC Pittsburgh

The National Aviary started its celebration of 2021 with the hatching of an endangered African Penguin to first-time parents Buddy and Holly.

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