Revisiting the Wild

I’m thrilled to have more good news to share on the Bali mynah conservation front. Our breeding pair hatched a second clutch for the season, producing two more chicks to boost a species that’s nearly extinct in the wild.

As I’ve written before, Lincoln Park Zoo is a leader in the effort to bring this species back from the brink of extinction. In the 80s-90s I traveled frequently to Indonesia myself to contribute to a program to reestablish captive-born Bali mynahs to the wild.

I’ve been thinking of those trips recently as I get ready to travel to Australia for the 67th annual conference for the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. I even found some old slides chronicling that field work. So as we celebrate the new chicks, I thought I’d offer a look back at past efforts to conserve them with this slideshow from Indonesia.

President and CEO Kevin Bell in Indonesia around 1990, working with local partners to catalogue endangered Bali mynahs that were being kept as pets.

President and CEO Kevin Bell in Indonesia around 1990, working with local partners to catalogue endangered Bali mynahs that were being kept as pets.

Local conservationists pose near a sign announcing the Bali mynah release effort. Despite their efforts, the species declined to 15 individuals in the wild by the early 1990s.

Local conservationists pose near a sign announcing the Bali mynah release effort. Despite their efforts, the species declined to 15 individuals in the wild by the early 1990s.

Birds were available for sale in large numbers. The illegal pet trade was a driving factor behind the Bali mynah’s decline.

Birds were available for sale in large numbers. The illegal pet trade was a driving factor behind the Bali mynah’s decline.

Bali mynahs ready for release in Indonesia around 1990. Today the bulk of this critically endangered population lives in zoos. The Bali Mynah Species Survival Plan® guides North American zoos in working together to grow their numbers. The hatches at Lincoln Park Zoo represent one step forward in bringing the species back from the brink.

Bali mynahs ready for release in Indonesia around 1990. Today the bulk of this critically endangered population lives in zoos. The Bali Mynah Species Survival Plan® guides North American zoos in working together to grow their numbers. The hatches at Lincoln Park Zoo represent one step forward in bringing the species back from the brink.

A look at one of the release sites on Bali, which stretches up into the mountains.

A look at one of the release sites on Bali, which stretches up into the mountains.

A downtime snapshot of the region’s architecture, including intricate pagodas.

A downtime snapshot of the region’s architecture, including intricate pagodas.

An outrigger boat with a modern motor sits by shore.

An outrigger boat with a modern motor sits by shore.

Rice grows in massive terrace farms.

Rice grows in massive terrace farms.

Kevin discusses the conservation effort with the Assistant Director of the Delhi Zoo.

Kevin discusses the conservation effort with the Assistant Director of the Delhi Zoo.

International collaboration for conservation is just as important now as it was then. I look forward to sharing some updates from Australia when I return!

Kevin Bell

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