Animal Conservation

Two critically endangered female blue-billed hoccos born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

The National Zoo and the Smithsonian Institute of Conservation Biology in Washington, DC, announced the birth of 2 critically endangered female blue-billed hoccos. The first chick, Aluna, hatched on August 5, 2022, while her sister, Lulo, hatched on August 28, 2022. The chicks are the first offspring of Jackie, their 6-year-old mother. The 16-year-old father, JB, also fathered chicks at another institution.

According to a statement from the organization,1 the guards note that the sisters are doing well and describe them as “confident and curious” as they are watched out of the exhibit.

While Jackie arrived at the zoo in 2016, JB arrived there in 2019, following a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP). Female hoccos typically incubate their eggs for 29-31 days, but in this case, Jackie showed no interest in incubating her eggs. Thus, it was clear to the team that she would not accept or bond with her chicks, so they put the eggs in an incubator.

The Guardians decided to hand raise Aluna and Lulo to give them the best chance of survival. They imbibed or socialized with the animal care team and were given adult feathers to snuggle under and a mirror that allows for “socialization” when the keepers are away.

“Every moment with these chicks has been a dream come true for me,” pet sitter Heather Anderson said in the statement. “I’ve had the goal of raising the Blue-billed Curassow since my first year at the zoo. It was amazing to watch these precocious birds as their instinctive abilities to eat, perch and preen their feathers kicked in, all from day one of their lives! For other bird species, these milestones could take weeks to reach.

Blue-billed hoccos are native to Colombia and considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. An estimated 1,000 and 2,500 remain in the wild, according to the statement.1 These birds once resided throughout northern Colombia, but currently the entire wild population lives in a few small areas of lowland rainforest. Their main threats include habitat loss and fragmentation.

Reference

Two critically endangered blue-billed hoccos hatch at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. Press release. National Zoo and Smithsonian Institute for Conservation Biology. August 29, 2022. Accessed September 1, 2022. https://nationalzoo.si.edu/news/two-critically-endangered-blue-billed-curassows-hatch-smithsonians-national-zoo-and