TOKYO – An endangered white stork egg laid in the wild has hatched naturally in western Japan for the first time in more than 40 years, a stork museum announced Sunday.
The new chick’s parents – a 7-year-old male Oriental white stork and his 9-year-old partner – were born through artificial breeding at a public farm, the Hyogo Prefectural Homeland for the Oriental White Stork, and were released into the wild last September.
The couple started mating in April and built their nest atop a 14-yard-tall manmade pole in a rice paddy near the farm in the city of Toyooka.
“The baby was born!” the Eco Museum Center for Oriental White Stork said in a statement on its Web site. “It would be a major step forward for storks’ return to the wild.”
The birth of a naturally bred stork is the first since one was recorded in 1964 in the central Japan town of Fukui.
Designated as a special natural treasure in Japan, Oriental white storks disappeared from Japan in the 1980s.
The Hyogo park began a stork preservation program in 1985 using six birds donated by the Soviet Union. Through captive breeding, those six storks now have more than 100 offspring.