The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Guam rail breeding program began in 1985 and continues today. Researchers work with the Guam Department of Aquatic Wildlife and Resources to repatriate the birds to Guam for reintroduction to the wild on the island of Rota.
This year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature declared that Guam rails are no longer extinct in the wild. They are only the second bird to ever recover from extinction in the wild and are now reclassified as critically endangered.
Endangered Kirtland’s warblers have long been plagued by brown-headed cowbirds at their summer nesting grounds in Michigan. The parasitic cowbirds lay their eggs in warbler nests, causing warbler parents to care for the cowbirds rather than their own chicks.
By 1971, only 200 male Kirtland’s warblers remained in the wild, and about 70% of their nests were parasitized by cowbirds. For 40 years, conservation efforts have targeted brown-headed cowbirds to prevent them from laying eggs in warbler nests. A study published by Smithsonian scientists in July found that Kirtland’s warblers may no longer need protection from cowbirds in Michigan.
An unexpected arrival at Reptile Discovery Center
Life found a way at the Zoo when a female Asian water dragon underwent facultative parthenogenesis. That is, she gave birth to a healthy, thriving offspring despite never breeding with a male or receiving genetic material.
Smithsonian scientists were the first to confirm parthenogenesis in Asian water dragons and published their findings in June.
What’s better than a clouded leopard cub? Two clouded leopard cubs
Playful, curious clouded leopard cubs Jilian and Paitoon stole visitors’ hearts when they debuted at the Zoo earlier this year, but these two cubs are more than cute. They’re also a reminder of the important conservation work that happens here every day.
Smithsonian scientists have been in the business of clouded leopard conservation for decades, studying their behavior, biology and ecology. One of their research focuses has been creating assisted reproductive technologies to help the species.