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NIIGATA (Kyodo) Koki Chikatsuji, a former chief of the Sado Japanese Crested Ibis Conservation Center, died Tuesday of esophageal cancer at a hospital on Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture, his family said. He was 66.

Born in Tokyo, Chikatsuji started work at the center on Sado Island in 1967 and stayed for 36 years. The center was originally designed to protect and later to artificially raise the endangered birds.

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