• Kyodo

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A male oriental white stork died Saturday after living in captivity for a record 35 years at a breeding farm in Hyogo Prefecture, the farm said.

The stork, named Kobe Yoshikawa, was found dead in its cage at around 8:15 a.m., the Hyogo Prefectural Homeland for the Oriental White Stork in Toyooka said.

Kobe Yoshikawa, kept at the farm since July 1971, started showing signs of weakening Friday, it said.

The storks, which have a 2-meter wingspan, live along rivers, wetlands and rice paddies and feed mainly on fish, frogs and grasshoppers. The birds disappeared from Japan because of overhunting, pesticides in rice paddies and other environmental disruptions.

The prefecture began an artificial breeding program starting with six birds donated by the Soviet Union in 1985 and now has more than 100 white storks.

On May 20, an egg laid by a 9-year-old stork became the first in Japan to hatch in 43 years. The baby stork is expected to fly out of its nest as early as July.

The stork that laid the egg was artificially bred with her 7-year-old mate and later released into the wild. It laid a total of six eggs this spring, including two that hatched.

The second chick died shortly afterward.

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