Once extinct in the wild, Hawaiian crows exhibit will open at Hilo zoo

  • A new aviary under construction at the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens will house ‘alala, or Hawaiian crows, when completed. (Courtesy photo/SAN DIEGO ZOO)

HILO — A new aviary under construction at the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens will house alala, or Hawaiian crows, when completed.

Zoo Director Pam Mizuno said work began in October, but a completion date has not been determined.

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It’s a “pretty large aviary,” and once completed, work will have to be done inside.

The birds, which were declared extinct in the wild in 2002, have gradually been reintroduced to forests in groups since 2017.

“I never saw an alala in person until recently,” Mizuno said. “I’m pretty sure most people who live here haven’t because they’ve basically been extinct in the wild for a long time.”

According to Mizuno, there will be two side-by-side aviaries and the zoo will receive birds from the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center that are not in a breeding situation.

“I think it’s just wonderful,” she said. “I think it’s really important for people to be able to see them, for the kids to be able to see them. It’s just wonderful that we’re actually starting to be successful in having them be re-released (in the wild) … A lot of people don’t know that they exist.”

While awareness of the birds has grown, “most people don’t get to see what an alala looks like.”

The aviary is being paid for by the Friends of the Panaewa Zoo, a nonprofit organization that assists in providing for special zoo needs.

Mizuno said the aviary will cost about $140,000.

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Donations for the project can be made at hilozoo.org. A link for donations can be found under the “Support Us” tab.

The zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day.

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