Endangered Ducklings Hatch at Central Park Zoo

Tuesday, Jun 21, 2011  |  Updated 5:21 PM EDT
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Endangered Ducklings Hatch at Central Park Zoo

A clutch of eight critically endangered ducklings has hatched at the Central Park Zoo.

Zoo officials announced Tuesday that the Chinese merganser ducklings hatched on April 26. It is the first time that Chinese merganser ducklings have hatched in a North American zoo.

The birds are also known as scaly-sided mergansers and are native to East Asia.

Conservationists list the Chinese merganser as endangered, with populations estimated between 1,000 and 2,500 and falling.

The decline is due to habitat destruction, pollution, illegal hunting and human disturbance of breeding territory.

Zoo director Jeff Sailer said that by successfully breeding the birds in captivity, zoo officials hope to ensure a future for the species as a whole.

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