Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo has some good news for one of the world's rarest birds.
The zoo says it is caring for a newly fledged clutch of three Bali mynah chicks. It's the first time in 12 years the zoo has seen a successful hatching of the birds.
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Bali mynahs are exceedingly rare. The zoo says there are only 115 wild birds on its native range on Indonesia's island of Bali and an estimated 1,000 more in captivity.
Zoo spokesman Sharon Dewar says there are no plans to release the three chicks into the wild. But she says zoo officials hope to create a sustainable population that would ultimately allow for Bali mynahs to be released into their natural habitat.
According to Hope B. McCormick Curator of Birds Colleen Lynch, "this is the first successful hatching and fledging of Bali mynah chicks at the zoo in 12 years. All told, the zoo has hatched 31 mynahs since 1972 and has been a national leader in the propagation and conservation of this critically endangered species."
The greatest threat to the bird's continued survival remains the unsustainable and illegal trapping of the mynahs for the worldwide cage-bird trade, McCormick said. Over the past couple decades, wild population numbers have fluctuated drastically with the latest, most promising numbers estimating a maximum of 115 wild birds on Bali. There are an estimated 1,000 surviving in captivity.
While numerous conservation efforts are underway to introduce captive managed birds to the wild, until the black market trade of this species can be stemmed, the birds' future survival remains tenuous. There are 53 accredited institutions within the Association of Zoos and Aquariums carefully managing and breeding this species as part of the Species Survival Plan with the goal of saving this species from extinction.
While the chicks are being housed in a non-public access enclosure, the adult birds of this very rare species can been seen daily in the open, free-flight exhibit at the zoo's McCormick Bird House.