The San Diego Zoo received its first pair of kagus in 1927 from the Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney, Australia. Today, both the Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park have kagus.
The kagu is the national bird of New Caledonia, and its image is used frequently to promote its economy. But the kagu’s crest feathers—its crowning glory—were so prized by the makers of ladies’ fancy hats in the 1800s that the bird almost became extinct. Predation by dogs, cats, pigs, and rats that were brought to the main island also caused the number of kagus to drop. With the bird’s popularity as a pet and even as a food source, and the loss of much of its forest habitat, the kagu soon became endangered. Fortunately, New Caledonians are working to protect their national symbol. Successful reintroductions have been carried out in a national park where predators have been controlled.