Cassowary ChickAims of captive breeding

The captive breeding program aims to ensure the survival of a captive population at zoos that:

  1. can support the development and documentation of husbandry techniques for the species; and
  2. support the illustration of biodiversity through education and interpretation.


The species is considered to be a ‘flagship’ species for the interpretation of Queensland’s tropical rainforest habitat.

Currently, 26 members of the Zoo Aquarium Association (Australiasia) participate in the captive management of the Southern Cassowary. Their roles vary depending on the genetics of individual birds at each institution and the facilities available there.  Roles include breeding, display for education and interpretation, and husbandry research.


Every year data are collected for all of the animals and collated in a studbook. The studbook is then analysed by the species coordinator using a number of programs to identify:

  1. which birds should breed;
  2. which birds should be transferred to other institutions for breeding or holding; and
  3. which birds are no longer suitable for breeding.

Recommendations are made by the species coordinator and actioned by the institutions.

The goals of the program are to:

  1. maintain 90% genetic diversity over 50 years; and
  2. achieve reliable and consistent breeding.