Raising young

Source: rotterdamzoo.nl and avifauna.nl
When birds in a zoo are enrolled in a breeding program – because they are a threatened species – the zoo must make a difficult decision when eggs have been laid. Allow the birds to brood and hatch their own eggs, or ...
let animal keepers (and incubators) take over this task? There are good reasons to let the parents do their own brooding, but especially with inexperienced birds (first nest) this is risky. The young in a breeding program are often too valuable to take the risk. When can it be left to the birds?

Both Blijdorp and Avifauna (two zoos in the Netherlands) had to make this choice this spring. In Blijdorp, keepers have raised young Dalmatian pelicans three years in a row (2009, 2010, 2011). Three young pelicans (2011) have just been reintroduced to the group. A chick from the second nest of a pelican pair is now being cared for by its own parents, which is interesting for visitors to observe.

In 2007 in Avifauna, oriental stork eggs were placed with experienced European storks. Earlier this year two oriental storks came out of the incubator. These young birds have grown well and can eat independently. These birds also had a second nest, but it wasn’t clear whether these eggs were fertilised. Now two young have hatched and are being cared for by the parents: a first! Expertise regarding raising oriental storks is being shared with European zoos, as these birds are seriously endangered, with less than 2500 estimated in the wild in Asia.