SAN DIEGO (CNS) — Nine milky stork chicks have hatched -- one last month -- at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in an effort to save the critically endangered species, zoo officials said Thursday.
The zoo's Wildlife Alliance conducted the first medical checkup this week on the chick that hatched in June. The checkup involved looking for irregularities, obtaining weight, collecting samples to determine sex and implanting a microchip.
"This checkup went very fast," said Andrew Stehly, curator of birds at Safari Park. "The chick was deemed healthy and was reunited with its parents. It is a tremendous honor every time I see a new chick because it increases my confidence that we will save these birds."
The zoo program brought North America's last 23 surviving milky storks to a habitat at the Safari Park more than two years ago.
A team of conservationists has been working to aid birds previously living in wildlife facilities in North America to produce new chicks.
The world's population of milky storks has fallen substantially since the late 1980s, a zoo official said. Scientists said the decline in the bird's population was brought about by habitat destruction and deforestation from human activities such as fish farming, rice cultivation, human resettlement and increased wildlife trafficking.
In 2008, the birds' global population dropped to less than 2,200, alarming conservationists and leading them to change their status to endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's red list of threatened species.
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