Rare Guam Kingfisher bird dies at Smithsonian National Zoo

FILE PHOTO A Micronesian kingfisher native to Guam perches on a branch in an aviary at the Philadelphia Zoo Wednesday, Sept 24, 2003. Philadelphia Zoo zoologist Beth Bahner is on Guam with the first three Micronesian kingfishers returned since the birds died out in the wild more than 15 years ago. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

WASHINGTON (AP) – A rare bird has died at the Smithsonian National Zoo’s Bird House.

Zoo officials said in a statement that the Guam Kingfisher died Saturday at the age of 17. The zoo says the bird was one of only 146 members of its species in the entire world.

The Washington Post reports (http://wapo.st/2j12u2o) that Guam’s kingfisher population suffered after the brown tree snake was accidentally introduced to the Pacific island shortly after the second World War. By the early 1980s, only about 30 remained. The threat of extinction spurred vigorous efforts at conservation.

At present, Guam Kingfishers only exist in captivity.

The zoo says that while the recently deceased bird didn’t help produce any chicks, he was “a terrific ambassador for his species.”


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