Critically Endangered Thick-Billed Parrots Hatch at WCS’s Queens Zoo

  • Queens Zoo is home to the largest thick-billed flock in the United States
  • Extinct in the United States, hatchlings mark a major step towards the conservation of this rare species

Flushing, N.Y.- The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Queens Zoo is proud to announce the hatching of six new thick-billed parrot chicks.

The thick-billed parrot is a critically endangered bird native to Mexico, and at one time, the United States. Its population has dropped dramatically over the last century due primarily to hunting and habitat destruction, making the arrival of the chicks a major conservation win for this extremely rare species.

Since 2006, the Queens Zoo has successfully raised 15 thick-billed parrot chicks –  a magnificent feat for both the zoo and the survival of the species. Having a total of 23 birds—including the chicks – the zoo’s flock is larger than that of any other facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. 

“Being that thick-billed parrots are extinct in the United States, the arrival of these chicks marks a significant step in the conservation of this animal,” said Dr. Scott Silver, Director of the Queens Zoo.

Zookeepers say the chicks are adjusting very well to life at the zoo. Much of their time is spent exploring their nests and waiting for their parents to bring them food, such as pine nuts and fruit. Usually, one parent will forage for food while the other watches over the young birds. Parenting is a joint effort between mother and father, both taking equal parts in caring for and raising their offspring. 

Thick-billed parrots are beautiful birds that feature bright green and red plumage. At one time the species had at a much wider range that included Arizona, New Mexico, and other parts of the American Southwest. Decimated by hunting and logging of pine forests, the bird was eliminated in the United States by the mid-twentieth century. Because this animal is endangered, it is part of the AZA’s Species Survival Program, a cooperative breeding program that works with all accredited zoos to help ensure the survival of rare and endangered species around the world. 

In 1991, WCS introduced the idea of linking ongoing conservation efforts in Mexico and Central American countries. Since then, governments and agencies have followed along with this idea to incorporate corridors between conservation areas and working together across borders.

Barbara Russo - 718-265-3428; Cell: 917-494-5493;

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Queens Zoo – Open every day of the year. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for seniors 65 and older, $6 for kids 3-12, free for children under 3. Zoo hours are 10am to 5pm weekdays, and 10am – 5:30pm weekends, April through October, and 10am – 4:30pm daily, November through April. The Queens Zoo is located at 53-51 111th Street in Flushing Meadow’s Corona Park in Queens. For further information, call 718-271-1500 or visit

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony.  WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.

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