The blue-crowned laughingthrush is one of the rarest species we have at the zoo. They're only found in two tiny areas of China and there are thought to be less than 200 left in the wild.

Our birds are part of a European and international stud book breeding programme for this very rare species and we are one of only a handful of zoo’s that breed it regularly.

Our birds help to provide a 'safety net' captive population, whilst our China conservation programme helps to support researchers and conservationists in China, who are trying to save the species from extinction in the wild.

Our blue-crowned laughingthrushes can be seen flitting through the vegetation in the Tropical Realm and we also have several other breeding pairs, which are kept in dedicated off-show breeding aviaries. 

These birds are very sociable and form tight family groups with young from earlier nests helping to rear chicks from later broods.

Blue-crowned Laughingthrush (c) He Shu-hui - Chester Zoo

Image © He Shu-hui

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Interesting facts

Scientific Name: Garrulax courtoisi

Where they live: Only found in two remote areas of China.

Habitat: Lowland and hill forest, often found along rivers and streams.

Diet: Laughingthrushes are omnivorous and eat a variety of food including fruit, berries, insects and other invertebrates.

Weight: 50 grams.

Threats: Loss of habitat due to logging of lowland rainforest for tropical timber and clearance of forests for agricultural land. Capture of birds for the local and international pet bird market. Hunting of birds for food.

Species Information

Scientific name Dryonastes courtoisi
Order Passeriformes
Family Timaliidae
Genus Dryonastes
IUCN status Critically Endangered
Roles in the zoo

Insurance population: This is a species that is extinct in the wild or is in imminent danger of extinction. We’re helping to manage a breeding programme at Chester Zoo as part of a conservation action plan.

In situ Conservation Ambassador

Flagship species: This is a species acting as an ambassador for one of our conservation programmes in the wild.

Species conservation: This is a species for which we have a significant focus on in the wild, as part of our conservation projects and programmes around the world.

Habitat conservation: This is a species that we support through our habitat-focused conservation projects and programmes around the world.


Interdependence: This species helps demonstrate that all living things, including humans, live in ecosystems and depend on other living things for their survival.

Human Impact: This species helps demonstrate that human activities are causing serious environmental damage.

Partnerships: This species helps demonstrate that we work in partnerships with other organisations to conserve nature and natural resources.

Chester Zoo: This species helps demonstrate that as a charity Chester Zoo’s mission is to be a major force in conserving biodiversity worldwide.

Husbandry Development and/or Skills Training: This is a species for which we’re developing particular husbandry methods to address an identified issue and/or helping to build staff capacity in specific husbandry or field conservation skills.

Visitor experience

Exhibit Enhancement: This species connects visitors with the geographic areas that they originate from and helps develop further understanding of the environmental issues facing the species in those regions.