South Florida - Sacred Ibis
The Sacred Ibis is an introduced species of ibis that is originally from Africa. It is believed that some of these birds escaped captivity from private collections around time that Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida. These birds began to pair up, breed and increase in numbers throughout the following years. They were seen in large populations extending north to Palm Beach County, south to the Homestead area and discovered west in 2005 breeding in the Everglades National Park. This species has caused significant impact to shore bird populations in areas of Europe where they have became introduced. Concerns began to arise over their impact to native species and the environment. In early 2008, Zoo Miami entered a joint venture with the USDA Wildlife Services to help remove a population of Sacred Ibis frequenting the Zoo during the day to forage for food. The first two captured were surrendered to the USDAWS to have GPS transmitters attached to discover their daily migration patterns. A rookery site was discovered about a mile away through this joint effort. Zoo Staff was able to capture a total of 34 individual birds and find placement for them in other AZA institutions where they would no longer pose a threat to South Florida. The last sacred captured and to be seen on zoo grounds occurred on Christmas Eve 2008. Zoo staff continues to monitor for this birdís presence on grounds and in the natural areas of South Florida.