Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is the only collection in the UK to have hatched Toco Toucan chicks this year, and the facility is one of only three in all of Europe to have bred this remarkable bird in 2017.
It’s hard to believe that the two new hatchlings, looking more like comical puppets than growing chicks, will turn into examples of one of the most striking and familiar birds in the world. The Toco is the largest, and probably the best-known, member of the Toucan family.
The two are being hand-reared by Paignton Zoo bird keeper, Nikki Watt. Although the parents have hatched chicks in the past, they failed to successfully rear their previous offspring. Zoo staff opted to care for the chicks themselves to ensure their survival.
The chicks are demanding: they are fed first at 7:00am, then every two hours or so until 10:00pm. Each meal of special baby bird formula and fruit has to be prepared and delivered by hand. Nikki records amounts consumed at each sitting.
Now one month old, the pair is doing well and already starting to look more like the recognizable image of a Toucan.
The Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco), also known as the Common Toucan, Giant Toucan or Toucan, is the largest and probably the best-known species in the toucan family. It is native to semi-open habitats throughout a large part of central and eastern South America.