|The Chula Vista Nature Center and its partners—SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—have been recognized for their efforts in rescuing the endangered Light-footed Clapper Rail, a bird native to southern California. Late last month, a study team representing all four partners was honored with the very first Plume Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
Rails thrived in the region’s marshes until their habitat began to disappear a few decades ago. Scientists warned that, without human intervention, the species was destined to become extinct. The Nature Center and its partners stepped in to save the endangered species with an ambitious captive breeding program that began in Chula Vista eight years ago. Rails are being reared and returned to the region’s wetlands—from Santa Barbara to Mission Bay. Since 2001, more than 200 zoo-raised rails have been released in nine habitats.
The study team introduces zoo-raised rails into wetland habitats with low rail populations. Members also monitor the breeding success of wild rails at several marshes and construct, deploy and maintain artificial nest structures to increase the nesting success of wild rails.
This is the first year for the Plume Award. The Nature Center and its partners were recognized for “Noteworthy Achievement in Avian Husbandry.” Winners were selected by the Avian Scientific Advisory Group, part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.