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Each spring, the Houston Zoo’s Attwater’s Prairie Chicken Recovery Program raises a new group of these critically endangered birds for release into the wild with the aim of restoring their populations to self-sustaining levels. This year’s Name a Chick campaign is over, but you can help support this critical conservation effort year-round here.
A century ago, a million Attwater’s Prairie Chickens roamed free in their native coastal plains habitat, including grasslands that now make up the Houston metropolitan area. Due to a number of factors, including habitat loss and predation, only about 100 of these birds are left in the wild at a few protected sites in Southeast Texas.
Attwater’s Prairie Chickens are perhaps best known for the elaborate behavior performed by males to attract females during breeding season. Males inflate the orange air sacks on their necks and emit a deep “booming” sound while dancing around stomping their feet.
The Houston Zoo is proud to manage the captive breeding program for the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken. Our behind the scenes facilities at the Zoo and at NASA’s Johnson Space Center house this important wildlife conservation project. After the chicks are several months old and have reached a certain maturity, they are transferred to an “acclimation pen” at the site of their future home. Once they become accustomed to their new surroundings, they are released to roam free into protected wild habitats where they will join the remaining populations.
Can you send me photos of my chick?
With the number of chicks we plan to hatch, rear, and release, we are unable to provide photos of specific chicks. However, we will be sending two e-mail updates featuring photos of this year’s group of chicks.
Where at the Houston Zoo can I see and meet my chick?
Attwater’s prairie chickens are cared for behind-the-scenes at the Zoo and our Bird Keepers are so busy raising chicks that they are unable to provide behind-the-scenes tours for individuals.
We do encourage supporters to attend the “Booming N Blooming Festival” hosted at the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge near Eagle Lake, TX this April. Click here to learn more about this fun opportunity to see Attwater’s prairie chickens in their natural habitat!
Will I receive updates on the status of my chick?
While we are unable to accommodate requests for updates on specific chicks, we will be sending two e-mail updates about this year’s group of chicks.