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Rare Hawaiian Animals Show Up in a California Lawn

Five of the rarest geese in the world, a small flock of Hawaii’s state birds, showed up in Huntington Beach, California, confusing everyone. The nēnē or Hawaiian goose is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, meaning it only lives there. So why are there a handful of these Hawaiian geese hanging around in southern California?

According to local news station KCAL, an elderly woman who lives in the high desert of California once owned the rare geese as pets, but she could no longer take care of them. Though the news report doesn’t say it outright, it seems the previous owner released the birds.

Local wildlife officials are taking care of the nēnēs, and they seem a little bit giddy about it. Jaret Davey, a wildlife technician at the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach, said: “If you had asked me to predict the top 1,000 birds that we’d ever get here at the center, nēnēs wouldn’t have even come close to the list, so it’s pretty exciting.”

Rare Nēnē Geese Are Endangered

According to the National Park Service, nēnēs are an endangered species. The nēnē population once dwindled to about 30 birds in the 1950s. Thanks to conservation efforts, though, the birds’ numbers have increased.

“Reintroduced populations occur on the islands of Hawai‘i, Kaua‘i, Maui, Moloka‘i, and most recently on O‘ahu,” NPS says.

As for these California nēnēs, who are very far from home and have lived their entire lives in human care, the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center says they’ll find the birds a good home in a zoo or aquarium.

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