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Rare pheasant hatches

Posted by: Gigi Allianic, Communications

The chick was photographed here at 8 days old. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

For the first time at Woodland Park Zoo, an Edwards’s pheasant has hatched—a bird that is believed to be extinct in the wild!

The Edwards’s pheasant is not exactly common in zoos either. Only 15 individuals live in seven zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. We have been providing a home for a pair since 2012.

Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

You can see the 6-year-old mother and 1-year-old father in our Conservation Aviary located in the Temperate Forest zone. The little chick, now just under 2 weeks old, is being hand-reared by zookeepers behind the scenes to help ensure it gains weight as expected of a growing chick and hits all of its important developmental milestones. With such a significant hatching of such a rare species, we’re taking extra precautions to ensure its health and survival.

A close up of the chick's feathers. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

In the near future, the chick will be moved to another zoo to help bolster the population of the species.

The Edwards’s pheasant is native to rain forest habitat in central Vietnam. It is critically endangered and has not been seen by conservationists since around 2000, and none were found during an intensive search for the species in 2011. The pheasant lost ground in the wild due to rampant deforestation from commercial logging and agriculture coupled with hunting.

We do not yet know the sex of the chick. If it is male, it will grow blue-black feathers, and if it is female, it will be a brown color. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

An international studbook on the Edwards’s pheasant is being maintained to document the genetic and demographic history of each individual animal in zoos to help ensure a genetically healthy population. Further, conservation plans are underway to help address habitat fragmentation and establish effective habitat protection in the species’ range. To continue this work in the field, Woodland Park Zoo partners with a variety of conservation organizations to help protect endangered and threatened species in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.