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Ask the Big Kahuna "Answering the most common visitor questions"
Response:Aloha, Robert and Alice!
Mahalo for your question.
Hawaii designated the nene (Branta sandwicensis for your ornithologist friends) the state bird in 1957 in part to help save it from extinction. They were almost hunted out in the 1940s and are still on the Federal List of Endangered Species.
Estimates place the wild nene count in Hawaii at around 800, so finding them may not be easy. They are easily recognized, though - they look like smaller versions of Canadian geese but have black and white throats. Unfortunately, the only ones you'll see on Oahu are in the Honolulu Zoo. You'll have to get to one of the neighbor islands to find them in the wild.
On the Big Island, they can be seen in Volcanoes National Park, Mauna Loa, Puu Waawaa, and at the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo; Maui has some in Haleakala National Park; and on Kauai you can find them along the Na Pali coast, at the Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge, and around Lihue. The Kauai wild nene population grew from a few that were set free from cages by Hurricane Iwa in 1982 and have propagated well on their own. That might be your best bet.
FYI: The Panaewa Rainforest Zoo is the only rainforest zoo in the United States, and the home of Namaste, a male white Bengal (Indian) tiger. For more information about the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo click here.
Have fun with the "hunt" and enjoy your visit.
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