Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon
Martha, the Passenger Pigeon, passed away on September 1, 1914, in the Cincinnati Zoo. She was believed to be the last living individual of her species after two male companions had died in the same zoo in 1910. Martha was a celebrity at the zoo, attracting long lines of visitors. When she was found dead on the floor of her cage that afternoon, she was immediately frozen into a 300-pound block of ice and shipped by fast train to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, where her body was carefully preserved as a taxidermy mount and an anatomical specimen. The Passenger Pigeon had been the most abundant species of bird in North America only decades earlier. Its extinction helped to inspire our modern conservation ethic.
The specimen made from Martha’s remains is one of the most treasured possessions of the Smithsonian Institution. It is on public display in the museum’s Objects of Wonder exhibit: https://naturalhistory.si.edu/exhibits/objects-wonder
Description: Ectopistes migratorius, collected September 1, 1914.
Photographer: Donald E. Hurlbert, 6/23/2014
Copyright: This image was obtained from the Smithsonian Institution. The image or its contents may be protected by international copyright laws.