Hawaiian Goose

(Branta sandvicensis)




Facts about this animal

The Hawaiian goose, or Nene, is a medium.sized goose, 56-71 cm long, with a body-weight of about 1.9 to 2.1 kg, and about 56-71 in length. It has a black bill and black feet.

The plumage of the head is black, the side of the neck and foreneck are tawny buff. The plumage of the neck is furrowed. The upper part is grey brown, the feather tips are broadly edged with brownish black and pale grey. The rump is dullish black. The breast and upper belly are greyish brown with marginated grey feathers. The lower belly and vent are white. The wings are greyish black with grey lines on the upper wing-coverts.

The nests are usually located in vegetated areas surrounded by recent lava flows. 3 to 5 white eggs are laid, which are incubated exclusively by the female for 29 days.

The Nene’s food is essentially vegetarian and includes grasses, sedges, herbs, leaves, berries etc.

Did you know?
that the Hawaiian goose is the official State Bird of Hawaii, and that the geese's native Hawaiian name, Nene, is derived from their distinctive "nay-nay" vocalization?


Class AVES
Suborder ANSERES
Name (Scientific) Branta sandvicensis
Name (English) Hawaiian Goose
Name (French) Bernache des Iles Sandwich
Name (German) Hawaiigans
Name (Spanish) Barnacla hawaiana
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Appendix II (as Anatidae spp.)



Photo Copyright by
Adrian Pingstone



Range Hawaiian Islands
Habitat Rocky, sparsely vegetated, high volcanic slopes, pastureland and adjacent natural scrubland
Wild population 1,722 individuals (2004) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 536 reported to ISIS (2005)

In the Zoo

Hawaiian Goose


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 17 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Eike Wulfmeyer

Why do zoos keep this animal

The Hawaiian goose is primarily kept for conservation reasons. By 1949 a population that was once estimated at 25,000 had been reduced to a mere 20-30 birds in the wild, with another 17 in human care. Through coordinated ex situ breeding and reintroductions combined with predator control programmes the species has been brought back from the brink of extinction, but is not yet self sustaining in the wild. The various wild populations total perhaps 400 birds. There is evidence to suggest that the wild populations would once more begin to decline without the continuous recruitment from the ex situ breeding programme.