News Release
Contact:   Sondra Katzen, Brookfield Zoo, 708.688.8351,
                 Jillian Braun, Lincoln Park Zoo, 312.742.5791,
August 11, 2023
 NOTE: Scroll to end of press release to download photos.
Endangered Helmeted Curassow Chick Thriving Thanks
to Collaborative Efforts between Brookfield Zoo and Lincoln Park Zoo

Brookfield, Ill. —  On July 31, a helmeted curassow chick hatched at Brookfield Zoo. The species, which is native to the mountain forests of Colombia and Venezuela, is endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Its population has continued to decline due to hunting and the long-term fragmentation of its habitat.

Although this chick hatched at Brookfield Zoo, its life began across town at Lincoln Park Zoo’s McCormick Bird House. The chick’s parents, which are relatively young at 7 and almost 6 years old, have been successful at constructing nests and producing eggs. However, they haven’t yet successfully incubated and hatched a chick. Currently, there are only 60 individuals that are housed in 18 Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited facilities in North America, so every hatchling is important to the overall zoo population and to conservation efforts for the species.

By assisting with egg management, the animal care staff at Lincoln Park Zoo made sure the fertile egg had every opportunity for a successful hatch. Therefore, the egg was removed from its nest and placed into artificial incubation. To monitor the chick, every few days, the fertile egg was weighed and candled, or held up to a light to see its development.

Once the egg hatched, due to the artificial incubation and these first-time parents, the chick would have to be handreared by human caregivers if it remained at Lincoln Park Zoo. The chick would most likely imprint, or become attached, to those caring for it and become reliant on its caretakers. Hand rearing long-lived birds such as curassows can have possible long-term effects on their ability to adapt to life as a bird, including future breeding and rearing offspring. For the chick to learn to be a bird, it was decided to transfer the egg to Brookfield Zoo where it could be placed with two similar-age peafowl for companionship after it hatched.

One of the largest birds found in the forests of South America, the helmeted curassow is about the size of a wild turkey and weighs up to about 8 pounds. It gets its name from the large bluish-gray casque on its forehead, which resembles a helmet. It has dark plumage with a blue-green gloss across its back and a red beak. Although it can fly, the helmeted curassow spends most of its time on the ground searching for food and only flies to trees to nest or roost at night.

Depending on its sex, it may stay at Brookfield Zoo or be transferred to another facility to be paired with a mate as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP is a cooperative population management program for select species in accredited North American zoos and aquariums. Each plan manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population, which is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.

“We are happy to be able to collaborate with Lincoln Park Zoo and provide a home for the chick. In addition to giving it companionship with two of our peafowl chicks, our adult curassows—both helmeted and wattled—have the potential to be good mentors,” said Cody Hickman, associate director of avian care and conservation for the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo.

The newly hatched helmeted curassow chick has been interacting well with its peafowl mates. They are currently behind the scenes and housed adjacent to Brookfield Zoo’s two adult female helmeted curassows.

“Saving species is a group effort,” said Lincoln Park Zoo Curator of Birds Robert Webster. “We are so grateful to have these trusted relationships across the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, including our neighbors at Brookfield Zoo, to ensure the future of endangered species like this curassow.” 

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Photo Captions from Brookfield Zoo (credit Jim Schulz/CZS-Brookfield Zoo)
7492: A helmeted curassow chick hatched at Brookfield Zoo on July 31. The species is endangered due to hunting and the long-term fragmentation of its habitat.

7540: A helmeted curassow chick (front) is being reared at Brookfield Zoo with two peafowl chicks of similar age.

7455: A helmeted curassow chick (right) is being reared at Brookfield Zoo with two peafowl chicks of similar age.
Photo Captions from Lincoln Park Zoo (see individual photos for credit)
1: Helmeted curassow pair at Lincoln Park Zoo and parents to chick that hatched at Brookfield Zoo on July 31. (credit: Jennifer Morphew/Lincoln Park Zoo)

2: A fertile helmeted curassow chick egg being candled, or held up to a light, in order to monitor the chick’s development. (credit: Lincoln Park Zoo)

3: A helmeted curassow chick egg being weighed at Lincoln Park Zoo. (credit: Lincoln Park Zoo)

4: A helmeted curassow chick egg being placed in an incubator at Lincoln Park Zoo. (credit: Lincoln Park Zoo)

About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. The Zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit
About Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo inspires communities to create environments where wildlife will thrive in our urbanizing world. The zoo is a leader in local and global conservation, animal care and welfare, learning, and science. A historic Chicago landmark founded in 1868, the not-for-profit Lincoln Park Zoo is a privately-managed, member-supported organization and is free and open 365 days a year. Visit us at


Sondra Katzen
Director of Public Relations
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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