Endangered bird hatched in Houston Zoo, first for species in North America

There are only about 3,000 Malagasy sacred ibis birds in the world, according to the Houston Zoo.


Houston Zoo

A black and white-feathered endangered bird recently hatched in the Houston Zoo. It’s the first known instance of the species, known to have a high conservation need, being hatched in the United States.

The Malagasy sacred ibis was born Sept. 3 and named Vorotsara, translating to “beautiful bird” in Malagasy. The zoo announced she hatched recently in a press release Thursday.

She was given that name by Jonah Ratsimbaazafy, the zoo’s conservation partner from Madagascar.

The zoo’s animal care team monitored the flock of birds during breeding season, when they decided to artificially incubate Vorotsara after observing the eggs were not being properly incubated. The care team had plans to return Vorotsara to her parents but learned they had abandoned the nest. The zoo stepped in to care for the eggs after that.

The flock originally came to Houston from Germany after the endangered species was determined to have a high conservation need by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

The zoo has implemented a quiet zone to temporarily house Vorotsara, and to disassociate her from human voices, where she stays with her stuffed crochet ibis companion, according to the zoo.

There are only about 3,000 Malagasy sacred ibis birds in the world.

The Malagasy sacred ibis is only found in Madagascar and some surrounding islands, according to the zoo. They’re considered endangered because of habitat loss and ease of poaching.

According to a 2010 study from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the species is mostly found along Madagascar’s coastal ecosystems.