May 21, 2007 in Nation/World

Rare stork hatches in wild for first time in 43 years

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review
Associated Press photo

An Oriental white stork tends to its newly hatched chick in Toyooka, western Japan, on Sunday.
(Full-size photo)

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.

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