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53 and Counting

June 19, 2013

National Zoo staff are celebrating the hatching of the Zoo’s 53rd kori bustard chick! The chick hatched on June 4, 2013. The event is significant because veterinary staff have been treating the chick’s father for cancer for the past year. The 25-year-old male has bred consistently since his arrival at National Zoo in 2000, enabling the kori bustard Species Survival Plan to send chicks hatched at National Zoo to other zoos in the United States and Europe. The male has been under close veterinary care for treatment of his cancer. Although he has responded very well to the cancer treatments, we did not know if the medications would compromise his chances of breeding.

So when he started to display in early May, we were hopeful that breeding would occur. On 13 May 2013, his mate laid an egg which keepers removed to an incubator for safe keeping. Twenty-three days later, the 100-gram female chick emerged from her shell. she is being handreared by keeper staff, and will be on view to the public in mid-August.

Throughout their natural range, kori bustard populations are declining. The National Zoo has been breeding koris since 1997 and was recognized in 2010 by AZA for its outstanding contribution to kori bustard captive management.

kori bustard chick

Photo by Connor Mallon, Smithsonian's National Zoo