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Reversing the plight of the Guam rail.

Following the end of World War II, the brown tree snake was accidentally introduced to the island of Guam in the Pacific Ocean. This invasive species devastated the ecosystem, obliterating many of the endemic forest species, including the population of Guam rails. These flightless birds didn't stand a chance against the voracious predator and were nearly extinct by the mid 1980s. In an effort to save the species, the last 10 surviving Guam rails were captured for propagation in captivity.

The American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) has a Species Survival Plan (SSP[R]) established for this species and there are currently about 50 Guam rails housed at AZA-accredited zoos, all of which contribute to the revival of the species. The National Aviary in Pennsylvania recently contributed to the success of this breeding program with the hatching of a Guam rail chick on October 8, 2005. The chick will eventually be sent to Guam for release into the wild.

Reintroduction efforts are proving successful on Guam and neighboring islands. About 100 Guam rails are currently housed in a 60-acre sanctuary on Guam, which is fenced in to protect the birds from the brown tree snakes and an increasing population of feral cats. Approximately 100 birds were also introduced to the neighboring island of Rota, where invasive species are not a problem.
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Title Annotation:News From Zoos
Publication:Endangered Species Update
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1U0GU
Date:Oct 1, 2005
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