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Nashville Zoo Opens New Cassowary Exhibit

Nashville Zoo announced the opening of a new double-wattled cassowary exhibit. The exhibit, sponsored by the H.G. Hill Realty Company, will be prominently featured near Kangaroo Kickabout and is designed to create an ideal environment for breeding.

“Though we have had cassowaries on exhibit for many years, this new habitat gives guests a chance to rediscover these unique animals,” said Shelley Norris, avian supervisor.

Due to the cassowary’s solitary nature, the new exhibit will be split into two yards connected by gates so that the male and female can have access to each other during breeding season. Two additional yards away from public view will house another male and future offspring. Females in the wild typically mate with up to three males during a breeding season. The extra yards will connect to allow the female to interact with more than one male, accommodating a more natural habitat for cassowary breeding.

The cassowary is considered critically endangered in Australia’s rainforests due to loss of habitat, vehicle strike, dog attacks and overhunting. In captivity, breeding of this species has been very limited, and as a result the captive population’s genetic diversity is low. It is also one of the most dangerous birds in the world, with claws on its large toes, and the ability to run as fast as 30 mph and jump nearly five feet in the air.

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