Two endangered ptarmigan chicks hatched June 17 as a result of artificial breeding efforts. The chicks are chirping away and able to raise their heads, a sign that they are healthy. (Provided by the Toyama Municipal Family Park Zoo)

TOYAMA--The Toyama Municipal Family Park Zoo here was celebrating a special delivery June 17, the hatching of two artificially incubated ptarmigan chicks, an endangered species.

It was the first time in 19 years that eggs from captive birds have hatched in Japan.

“I am really thankful that these chicks have been born,” said zoo director Yuji Ishihara, relishing the longed-for moment in a government-backed breeding program at a news conference June 18.

The chicks hatched on the evening of June 17. The breeding program, which started in fiscal 2015, is a joint project of the Environmental Ministry and the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The Japanese ptarmigan, a type of grouse, is designated by the central government as a special natural monument.

The last time artificial breeding efforts paid off was in 1998 at the Omachi Alpine Museum in Nagano Prefecture.

Ishihara, while clearly ecstatic at the development, cautioned that the hatching of the chicks is “nothing but one of the points we have to go through.”

“We can trumpet ‘success’ only when the newborn chicks propagate next year,” he said.

The health condition of the chicks is good. They are chirping and able to raise their heads.

They both measure 6.5 centimeters. One weighs 17.1 grams, and the other, 15.6 grams.

Their gender will be determined in about a month's time after DNA tests of the eggshells.

(This article was written by Sayaka Emukai and Hiroshi Matsubara.)