Bird

‘Extinct’ birds hatch at Chester Zoo

'Extinct' birds hatch at Chester Zoo (6)

Two chicks belonging to a species that was declared extinct in the wild 47 years ago have hatched at Chester Zoo.

The Soccoro dove, which originates from Socorro Island located 400 miles off the west coast of Mexico, vanished from the wild completely in 1972.

'Extinct' birds hatch at Chester Zoo (10)

'Extinct' birds hatch at Chester Zoo (5)

The introduction of sheep that ate plants the doves depended on for food and shelter, and invasive species such as cats that preyed upon the birds, are believed to be the main factors behind their demise.

Now, there are less than 200 Socorro doves existing entirely in zoos around the world, with just 23 in the UK – including Chester Zoo’s latest arrivals.

The chicks, which hatched on 7 November and fledged 20 days later, were raised by ‘foster parents’ – a pair of barbary doves – as adult Socorro doves have a poor track record of incubating eggs and raising their own chicks.

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Chester Zoo's Top 10 Baby Animals of 2018

Conservationists at Chester Zoo have celebrated an unprecedented number of births in 2018, including some of the world’s rarest and most at-risk species.

1. Precious sun bear cub Kyra is first of her kind to be born in the UK (8)

Sun Bear

Adorable cub Kyra was the first Sun Bear to be born in the UK. Her birth was caught on the zoo’s CCTV cameras and people around the globe watched Kyra’s first moments with her mom. Kyra’s parents, Milli and Toni, were both rescued from poachers in Cambodia.    

Conservationists estimate that less than 1,000 Sun Bears remain in the wild across Southeast Asia. Deforestation and commercial hunting for their body parts have decimated their numbers.

2. Baby Stevie is the arrival of the decade… for Chester’s chimpanzees  (3)

Chimpanzee

Critically endangered Western Chimpanzee Stevie was the first of her kind to be born at Chester Zoo in nearly 10 years.

Stevie’s birth followed a scientific project, spanning several years, which carefully assessed the genetics of all Chimpanzees in zoos across Europe. The study confirmed that the troop of Chimps at Chester Zoo is the highly-threatened West African subspecies – one of the rarest in the world – establishing them as a critically important breeding population. It is estimated that as few as 18,000 West African Chimpanzees now remain in the wild.

3. Elephant calf Anjan astonishes scientists after being born three months after expected due date (2)

Asian Elephant

After an unusually long pregnancy believed to have lasted 25 months, Asian Elephant Thi Hi Way gave birth to a healthy male calf, who keepers named Anjan.

A major Chester Zoo project in Assam, northern India, has successfully found ways to eliminate conflict between local communities and the nearby Asian Elephant population, offering a blueprint for the future conservation of the species.

4. Greater one-horned rhino calf Akeno gives new hope to species (2)

Greater One-horned Rhino

The momentous birth of Greater One-horned Rhino calf Akeno, born to mom Asha, was captured on CCTV cameras at the zoo.

Keepers watched as Asha delivered her calf safely onto to soft bedding after a 16-month-long gestation and 20-minute labor.

At one stage, the Greater One-horned Rhino was hunted almost to extinction and less than 200 survived in the wild. Thankfully, steps to protect the Rhinos were taken just in time and today there are around 3,500 in India and Nepal.

5. Secretive okapi calf Semuliki is a star in stripes (2)

Okapi

A rare Okapi calf named Semuliki arrived to first-time parents K’tusha and Stomp. The Okapi is found only deep in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo and its highly secretive nature contributed to it being completely unknown to science until 1901.

Despite being a national symbol and protected under Congolese law, Okapi populations declined in the wild by nearly 50% over the past two decades and the species is now listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

6. Tiny forest dragons help uncover new information about the species (4)
Bell’s Anglehead Lizards

A clutch of rare baby  Bell’s Anglehead Lizards – also known as Borneo Forest Dragons – hatched at the zoo, helping conservationists uncover more about the species’ breeding patterns, life cycle and habits.

The Lizards’ wild south Asian habitat however, is being decimated to make way for unsustainable palm oil plantations – a threat which is pushing many species in the region to the very edge of existence.

7. Rare silvery gibbon adds to record baby boom at the zoo  (2)
Silvery Gibbon

The birth of a tiny Silvery Gibbon astonished visitors to the zoo who were able to admire the infant just minutes after its birth. 

Conservationists hailed the arrival of this highly endangered primate, with just 4,000 of its kind now remaining on the island of Java, Indonesia, where the species is now listed as endangered by the IUCN.

8. Fluffy flamingo chicks are pretty in pink  (2)

Flamingos

Keepers were tickled pink by the arrival of 21 Flamingo chicks. Each of the fluffy newcomers was carefully hand fed by the zoo’s bird experts four times a day for five weeks until they were developed enough to fully feed for themselves.

Flamingo chicks are white or grey in color when they first hatch, resembling little balls of cotton wool, and begin to develop their famous pink plumage at around six months old.

9. Tiny babirusa triplets arrive in zoo ‘first’ (3)

Babirusa

The first set of Babirusa triplets were born at the zoo, a huge boost to the species which has experienced a recent population crash on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Once considered fairly common, the rapid decline comes as result of hunting for their meat and habitat loss, which has seen Babirusas disappear from many parts of the island.

10. Black rhino birth a surprise to visitors  (5)

Eastern Black Rhino

The arrival of Jumaane, a rare Eastern Black Rhino calf, left a handful of lucky zoo visitors in shock as his birth took place right in front of them.

Conservationists now estimate that fewer than 650 Eastern Black Rhino remain across Africa – a staggeringly low number driven by an increase in poaching to meet demand for rhino horn, which supplies the traditional Asian medicine market.

The birth of Jumaane is another vital boost to the Europe-wide breeding program which is crucial for the conservation of this critically endangered species.


Chester Zoo Is Tickled Pink By 21 Flamingo Chicks

!Pretty in pink! Chester Zoo welcomes new flamingo chicks (8)

Beginning on June 25, a total of 21 Caribean Flamingo chicks have hatched at Chester Zoo, bringing the total number in the zoo’s flock to 120.

All 21 youngsters are being hand fed by zookeepers at regular timed intervals, four times a day, and will require such special attention for several more weeks.

Pretty in pink! Chester Zoo welcomes new flamingo chicks
Pretty in pink! Chester Zoo welcomes new flamingo chicksPhoto Credit: Chester Zoo

Mark Vercoe, Assistant Curator of Birds, said, “Hand-feeding young Flamingos is a really intricate and demanding challenge, but these chicks will form part of another important breeding colony and so we need to make sure that each and every one makes it through to adulthood." 

The young chicks are white or grey in color, resembling little cotton balls, but they will develop their iconic pink feathers at around six months old. Flamingos get their pink color from pigments in the crustaceans and algae that they eat.

Once all of the new chicks are developed enough to fully feed themselves, the group will move to another zoo to help form a brand-new colony.

Caribbean Flamingos are the largest of all Flamingo species. They are native to the Caribbean islands, northern South America, and the Galapagos Islands, and sometimes live in flocks numbering thousands of birds. They are also known as American Flamingos.

See more photos of the flamingo chicks below.

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Prodigious Pigeon Hatches at Chester Zoo

1_Victoria crowned pigeon chick on the nest with mum just days after hatching at Chester Zoo (8)

The world’s largest member of the pigeon family, a Victoria Crowned Pigeon, recently hatched at Chester Zoo.

2_Victoria crowned pigeon chick on the nest with mum just days after hatching at Chester Zoo (11)

3_Victoria crowned pigeon chick on the nest with mum just days after hatching at Chester Zoo (6)

4_Victoria crowned pigeon chick on the nest with mum just days after hatching at Chester Zoo (13)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

According to the Zoo, the newly fledged little bird is now bright blue, rocks the best mowhawk, and can be seen strutting its stuff! When fully grown, the chick will be similar in size to a turkey.

Native to Indonesia and New Guinea, the Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria) is supposedly named after Queen Victoria who had a penchant for wearing elaborate, feathered headwear.

One of the closest living relatives of the now extinct Dodo, the Victoria Crowned Pigeon is itself declining in the wild, largely due to habitat loss as its forest home is cleared to make way for unsustainable palm oil plantations. It is also a bird that is prized by hunters and popular in the illegal pet trade, due to its beautiful appearance and spectacular plumage. As a result, it is a species listed as “Vulnerable” to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  

Mark Vercoe, Assistant Curator of Birds, said, “Along with the Nicobar Pigeon and the Tooth-billed Pigeon, the Victoria Crowned Pigeon is a descendant of the Dodo – a bird that has been famously lost from the planet because of the actions of humans.”

“This is something we don’t want to see a repeat of and it’s a lesson we really should learn from. Sadly, however, many bird species, including the likes of the Victoria Crowned Pigeon, are in trouble for many of the same reasons – human activity. Hopefully this chick can help us to highlight how important it is that we act for wildlife now; we cannot possibly let these beautiful birds go the same way as their extinct cousins.”

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Paradise Park Hatches Their First Brazilian Tanager

1_Brazilian Tanager mum feeds chick at Paradise Park in Hayle

Keepers at Paradise Park, in the UK, are excited about their first successful breeding of the Brazilian Tanager species.

Director, Alison Hales, remarked, “Our pair arrived from Newquay Zoo last year and settled well into one of the South Aviaries. These aviaries are in full sun which the birds like, but there is also a dense, leafy shrub in there and that is where they chose to make their nest.”

“They share their aviary with a pair of Luzon Bleeding-heart Doves, which works out well as these are ground doves so the species don’t interfere with each other.”

“The adults are very attentive, and particularly love to pick out the wax worms we feed them to pass on to their chick. I’m sure this little family will continue to thrive.”

2_Brazilian Tanager chick at Paradise Park in Hayle

3_Brazilian Tanager chick at Paradise Park in Hayle 2

4_Brazilian Tanager male in full colour at Paradise Park HaylePhoto Credits: Paradisde Park

The Brazilian Tanager (Ramphocelus bresilius) is a species of bird in the family Thraupidae. They are native to lowland coastal forests of Brazil, and can also be found on the outskirts of cities.

Tanagers are quite territorial, living in pairs or small groups consisting of parents and their offspring. Fruit makes up a large part of their diet, along with insects. As well as a bowl of food in their hut, the keepers at Paradise Park have a ‘peg board’ at the back of the aviary where they can spike fruit for the birds to eat.

5_Brazilian Tanager male at Paradise Park in Hayle


Papú the Owl Chick Has An Important Job

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Back in April, an egg barely the size of a ping-pong ball arrived at the Woodland Park Zoo from the Sacramento Zoo, where its parents were not able to incubate it.

On April 17, a feisty little Burrowing Owl chick pipped its way out of that egg. The chick, a male, was named Papú. His name, which is pronounced like paw-POO, with emphasis on the second syllable, means “Burrowing Owl” in the dialect of the Yakama tribes of eastern Washington. Little Papú, who also goes by the nickname Pippin, was at hatching barely a few inches long, covered in white downy plumage, and his eyes were not open yet.

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2018_05_17 owlette-5
2018_05_17 owlette-5

Because Papú will be reared by his keepers, it was decided that he will become an ambassador animal at the Woodland Park Zoo. In this very important role, Papú will meet zoo guests to help build a strong connection between people and wildlife. Right away, Papú captured the hearts of the animal keepers who will feed him, raise him, train with him throughout his life, and generally just let him become his best little Owl-self.

Papú is now nearly two months old and already adult-size, although he still has some of the downy plumage of a chick. Most baby birds are the same size as their parents by the time they’re ready to leave the nest—and Papú is just at that age. Adult feathers, which are mottled brown and white, are already starting to grow in, including those all-important flight feathers.

At this point, his flights are limited to practice take-offs and soft, but not always graceful, landings on his keepers’ laps or the ground. Within another week or so, he will probably take his first real flight, and by early autumn Papú will have his adult plumage and his eyes and beak will start turning yellow.

Burrowing Owls are small, long-legged Owls found throughout open landscapes of North and South America. These tiny predators—they’re only 8 to 11 inches tall and weigh between 5 to 8 ounces when fully grown—can be found in grasslands, rangelands and throughout the Great Plains.

They nest and roost in underground burrows that might have been dug out by prairie dogs or ground squirrels, although they can create their own burrows if needed. Unlike most Owls, Burrowing Owls are active day or night hunting for beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, mice and small lizards. The Burrowing Owl is endangered in Canada and threatened in Mexico. Although still common in much of the U.S., its population numbers are in decline and they are listed as threatened in several states due to the eradication of prairie dogs and loss of habitat.

See more photos below, including several of Papú right after he hatched.

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Rare Owl Chick Raised By Foster Parents

ChickB-18 Nest Return Day

Northern Spotted Owls are one of the rarest birds in Canada, with only about 30 individuals remaining in the country. That’s why the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program is thrilled to announce the successful hatching and release of a Northern Spotted Owl chick to foster parents at the facility.

Researchers collected and incubated an egg which had been laid on March 11. Nicknamed “Egg B,” the egg was monitored closely over the 32-day incubation period. The chick took 85 hours to break out of its egg, emerging on April 15.

ChickB-18 Newly Hatched
ChickB-18 Newly HatchedPhoto Credit: Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program

Staff at the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program hand-reared the chick, now referred to as “Chick B,” for the first 10 days of its life to increase the chick’s chances of survival.  The chick remained safe and warm, with constant care from staff 24 hours a day. The chick’s specific nutrition and temperature requirements were met as it grew and developed over the 10-day period. Owlets lack the ability to regulate their own body temperature.

After 10 days of round-the-clock care, Chick B was placed in the nest of an experienced Northern Spotted Owl pair named Scud and Shania who reside at the facility. You can see Chick B and its foster parents in the nest on the live stream below or by clicking here. The webcam is hosted by the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program in partnership with the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program.

The mission of the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program is to breed Northern Spotted Owls in a captive breeding program for eventual release into over 300,000 hectares of protected old growth forests in hopes that the species will re-establish itself and thrive.  Located in British Columbia, the Breeding Program began in 2007 with a founding population of six adult Spotted Owls. There are currently 20 Spotted Owls residing at the breeding facility, including four breeding pairs. The Program's target is to house 10 breeding pairs by 2020, and release 10-20 offspring each year for the next 15-20 years. 

See more photos of Chick B below.

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Zoo Celebrates First Blue-billed Curassow Chick

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Nashville Zoo’s avian staff welcomed their first Curassow chick on May 5.

After 30 days of incubation, Nashville Zoo keepers and veterinary staff assisted the chick in hatching. Keepers opted to assist the chick due to inactivity during the second day, after its initial pip in the shell membrane. Keepers noticed the shell membrane was dry instead of wet, and they decided intervention was necessary.

“This is a very valuable animal, and we need to do everything we can to help it survive,” said Shelley Norris, Nashville Zoo Avian Area Supervisor. “This egg hatching is significant because Curassows are critically endangered in the wild.”

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4_41137968845_508862919c_oPhoto Credits: Kelsey White/Nashville Zoo

There are only 54 Blue-billed Curassows in zoos across the country and only about 750 in the wild. The population has been in decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

This is the first chick born from breeding pair, Albert (3) and Victoria (5), who both arrived in Nashville in 2015.

The Curassows at Nashville Zoo have laid eggs in the past. However, the eggs were either not viable or the female knocked the eggs out of the nest.

“She [Victoria] has no idea that she’s supposed to sit on the eggs,” Norris said. “We think it’s because she’s young and things haven’t kicked in yet."

Nashville Zoo's avian staff is currently working with Houston Zoo and the Species Survival Plan on where to best place this chick.

The Blue-billed Curassow (Crax alberti) is a species of bird in the family Cracidae, which includes the Chachalacas, Guans, and Curassows.

The bird is native to Colombia. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest. The species is threatened by habitat loss and is currently classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN.

Blue-billed Curassows are believed to live in the same areas in Colombia as Cotton-top Tamarins, a primate species that was recently introduced in the Nashville Zoo's new Expedition Peru exhibit. The Zoo is contributing to the conservation project “Proyecto Titi” that benefits sustaining the Cotton-top Tamarin population, which could potentially also benefit the Blue-billed Curassows with the installation of camera traps to monitor the species.

“We’re learning how best to care for them,” Norris said. “Right now, this species is just so critical, we basically are just keeping them alive in general until we can find a solution in the wild.”


Rescued Little Penguins Return to the Sea

Please Credit Photographer Sarah Lievore (4)
On April 17, Taronga Wildlife Hospital staff released five healthy Little Penguins into the sea after nursing them back to health in Sydney, Australia.

The birds arrived at Taronga from nearby beaches over the past two months. Injuries included dehydration, a fishing hook injury and a broken foot.

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Photo Credit: Sarah Lievore

Taronga Wildlife Hospital manager Libby Hall said, “Most of the penguins were brought to Taronga Wildlife Hospital by members of the community who saw them in difficulty and took action. The community’s awareness of Little Penguins and other wildlife is increasing all the time and by acting quickly, they give us the best chance to help the birds through difficult times.”

The penguins were nicknamed by the Taronga Wildlife Hospital:

  • Bondi, found on Bondi Beach
  • Footsie, found in Newcastle on Stockton Beach
  • Nigel, found Chowder Bay in Mosman
  • Margaret, found in Maroubra
  • Collin, found on Collins Beach in Manly

Penguins hunt for fish as they swim in the ocean. Little Penguins become vulnerable during their annual molt, when their waterproof feathers fall out in clumps. Until their new feathers grow in, they cannot enter the water to capture fish. Because the Penguins do not feed during the molting period, they become emaciated and weak so are vulnerable to domestic pets, most particularly dogs.

The colony of Little Penguins at Manly in Sydney Harbor is the last remaining on the mainland of New South Wales. This population is protected and numbers only about 60 pairs. Other nearby colonies are located on offshore islands, which offer the Penguins some protection from pressure from humans and domestic pets.

Little Penguins are found in habitats along Australia’s southern coast and on the shores of Tasmania. These birds are also present on the southern coast of New Zealand. Several colonies have declined over the past decades, mostly due to human interference and predation. They are listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

People can help Little Penguins at beaches by keeping dogs on leashes, not leaving rubbish including fishing line hooks around and protecting habitat at the shoreline.

See more photos of the Penguin release below.

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Screamer Chicks Hatch at Woodland Park Zoo

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A pair of female Crested Screamer chicks hatched in early March at Woodland Park Zoo. The little birds represent the first offspring between the 15-year-old mother and 23-year-old father. The last successful hatching of this species at the Seattle, WA, zoo was in 2002.

At just a few weeks old, the chicks are fluffy and downy and currently weigh about 6 ounces.

“So far, we’re pleased to report the chicks are experiencing good weight gains,” said Mark Myers, bird curator at Woodland Park Zoo. “They’re eating well and the parents are very attentive. The chicks need lots of food and exercise to grow. Based on how they’re doing, we’re optimistic they’ll continue to thrive under the care of their parents and our animal care staff.”

According to the Zoo, Crested Screamer parents do not regurgitate food for their chicks. Instead, they lead the chicks to food and drop tasty treats as a lesson on how to peck for food. Myers said the Zoo’s family dines on a blend of game bird, waterfowl pellets, lots of fresh romaine, and broccoli florets.

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4_WPZScreamerChicksNestPhoto Credits: Woodland Park Zoo/ Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

The Crested Screamer (Chauna torquata) is aptly named for its loud, distinctive call, making it among the loudest of any bird. Native to Bolivia and southern Brazil, to northern Argentina, these large goose-like birds are common in tropical and subtropical wetlands, including marshes, estuaries and lowland lakes.

Another distinctive feature of the species is a large, sharp spur on each wing, which the birds use to defend themselves against predators. Adults reach and average size of 81–95 cm (32–37 inches) long and a weight of around 3–5 kg (6.6–11.0 pounds).

Screamers form monogamous relationships, and both adults take part in incubation and caring for the chicks. The female lays between two to seven white eggs, and incubation takes 43 to 46 days. Chicks leave the nest as soon as they hatch, but the parents will care for them for several weeks. The fledging period takes 8 to 14 weeks.

Although the Crested Screamer population is not threatened in their home range, Screamers and many other species of waterfowl are threatened by habitat loss due to human-imposed activities.

The new family at Woodland Park Zoo is currently off-exhibit, to allow animal keepers to monitor the chicks closely and weigh them regularly to ensure acceptable weight gains.

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