Nene Geese Are First Hatchlings Of Their Species At The Zoo

The Denver Zoo is welcoming three new Nene Geese, aslo known as Hawaii's state bird.

Nene Geese are rare, having struggled against extinction in the 1940's when they were legally hunted and collectors would take their eggs. The birds are now federally protected under the Endangered Species Act.

They are the zoo's first hatchlings of their species.

When full-grown, the geese display a black head, yellow-buff cheeks, necks with dark interplaying feathers and a black stripe down the back. Their feet are designed to allow them to run easily across uneven lava bed terrain and they are related to the Canada Goose. The name "Nene" comes from the sound of their calls which sound like "nay nay," according to a Denver Zoo press release.

From the Denver Zoo:

With a wild population of about 1,200 individuals, they are classified as vulnerable by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). This is due both to a lack of a suitable habitat as well as falling prey to animals such as small Indian mongoose, pigs, dogs, rats and cats.