Location: Mexico and Guatemala
Project Manager: Michael Macek
Species: Horned Guan
Priority: High


The horned guan (or pavon) lives in the high montane pine/oak forests of southeastern Mexico and Guatemala. By the early 1930's logging, coffee farming, and hunting had greatly reduced its numbers. Today there are only 1,000-2,000 birds existing in the wild, and the pavon is listed by the IUCN as critically endangered.

St. Louis Interest

A pair of horned guans is now on exhibit at the Saint Louis Zoo - the only United States zoo ever to exhibit this highly endangered species. The Zoo also currently holds in its collection the closely related common piping guan. In 1996 the zoo received a $25,000 IMLS grant to study assisted reproductive techniques in cracids using the common piping guan as a model. This research resulted in the first documented AI produced cracid chick. In 2000 the zoo funded a study of diet and habitat use of the razor-billed curassow and the use of vocalizations as a census method in Peru. The curator currently serves as the guan specialist for the AZA Cracid Taxon Advisory Group. In 2002 Karen DeMatteo attended the Horned Guan PGAV in Guatemala to present her paper on assisted reproduction techniques in guans.


The Horned Guan Conservation Center will serve as the leading U.S. organization dedicated to the conservation of the pavon and its habitat. The center will accomplish this through research management, habitat management, limiting factors management, life histories studies and reintroduction as recommended by the 2002 Population and Habitat Viability Assessment (PHVA). The 1995 Conservation Assessment and Management Plan (CAMP) also recommends a level 1 captive breeding program as a conservation component.

Conservation Science

As the conservation status of the horned guan is of the highest immediate priority, the taxonomic identity of geographic sub-species will be defined. The role the guan plays in the regeneration of montane forests is of paramount importance, but the complex dynamics of seed dispersal and predation are little understood. Nutrition and plant ecology studies will help illuminate this role.

The center will help to initiate local education programs. These programs coupled with enforcement action will help reduce the threats caused by illegal timber removal and hunting. The reduction of coffee plantations and the formation of additional reserves can provide potential for eco-tourism resulting in alternative economic opportunities for local communities.


The Cracid Specialist Group
AZA Cracid Taxon Advisory Group
The Nature Conservancy
BirdLife International
Instituto de Ecologia
Fundacion Natura