NBI In Zoos

Captive population

The NBI is an ideal zoo bird: it is big, socially active and the public is attracted by this gregarious and somehow “ugly” or somehow “special” bird species. The NBI shows a distinctive behaviour which is easy to observe. Many behavioural studies have been conducted in zoos and as early as in the 1970s an ethogram of various behaviour of the NBI was developed.  

The first attempts to keep the NBI in captivity date back to the 1930s. The first birds which survived and are the founders of the whole captive population were imported in the late 1950s and 1960s. The last imports occurred in the 1970s. Overall 130-150 birds might be the founding stock for the captive population.
The breeding success of the captive colonies in the late 60s and 70s was restricted (due to the lack of experience and keeping conditions) to few zoos, namely Basel Zoo, Durrell Wildlife trust and Alpenzoo Innsbruck. With improved husbandry, breeding success has been common since the beginning of the 1980s and thus successful keeping and breeding of the NBI is now  standard.

Nowadays the captive NBI population of about 1200 birds is managed through three different studbooks: in Europe, North America and Japan. The European studbook includes the greatest number of birds  with over 900 birds recorded. The population size is slowly increasing and two thirds of the population are younger than 10 years when reproduction is most likely.
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