2 rare Guam rail chicks hatch at National Zoo

Associated Press
In this photo provided by Smithsonian’s National Zoo shows a rare Guam rail chick that hatched at the National Zoo in Washington.  National Zoo officials say two rare Guam rail chicks have hatched there.  The small, flightless birds hatched March 3 and 4. The total population of the birds is now 162. In several weeks, zookeepers will perform routine medical exams and take feather samples to determine the birds' sexes. (AP Photo/Smithsonian’s National Zoo)
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In this photo provided by Smithsonian’s National Zoo shows a rare Guam rail chick that hatched at the National Zoo in Washington. National Zoo officials say two rare Guam rail chicks have hatched there. The small, flightless birds hatched March 3 and 4. The total population of the birds is now 162. In several weeks, zookeepers will perform routine medical exams and take feather samples to determine the birds' sexes. (AP Photo/Smithsonian’s National Zoo)

WASHINGTON (AP) — National Zoo officials say two rare Guam rail chicks have hatched there. The birds are extinct in the wild.

The small, flightless birds hatched March 3 and 4. The total population of the birds is now 162.

In several weeks, zookeepers will perform routine medical exams and take feather samples to determine the birds' sexes.

Eighty-two chicks have hatched at the zoo and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va. Some have been sent to Guam for release and breeding.

Guam rails were plentiful on the island until the brown tree snake arrived in military equipment shipped from New Guinea after World War II. The snakes had no natural predators and hunted the Guam rails and eight other bird species to the brink of extinction.

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