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The Story of Tibbles, a Pet Cat That Allegedly Rendered a Bird Species Extinct in Less Than a Year

The Lyall’s wren was a species of small, flightless birds that once thrived on Stephens Island, in New Zealand. It’s one of the many species that have been rendered extinct by the reckless introduction of predators in their natural habitat, but what makes this bird’s story unique is that it was allegedly both discovered and wiped out by a house cat named Tibbles.

The lighthouse on Stephens Island was built in 1892, but the existence of a yet-undiscovered species of bird on this small patch of land was only reported a couple of years later, when assistant lighthouse keeper David Lyall moved in, along with a small staff and his pregnant cat, Tibbles. Lyall was a passionate naturalist and amateur ornithologist, and was looking forward to pursuing his hobbies on this previously uninhabited island, but little did he know that he would go down in history as the man who discovered the Lyall’s wren and indirectly caused its extinction, both in less than a year.

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The Man Who Courted a Crane for Three Years to Save Its Species

Award winning ornithologist George Archibald is a living legend among his peers. This man actually courted a female whooping crane for three years, until she laid eggs. He managed to form an unlikely bond with the bird, and is believed to have played a big role in saving the entire species from extinction.

The story goes back to the spring of 1976, when Tex the crane was the only female of her species at the San Antonio Zoo. She was also one of about 100 surviving whooping cranes in the world. Researchers at the International Crane Foundation – co-founded by George in 1973 – had realised that Tex’s genes could contribute to increasing the population of cranes, if she would breed in captivity. There was only one problem: Tex thought she was human!

George-W-Archibald

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