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It is rare that keepers at Newquay Zoo decide to step in and hand rear an animal.

However this happened recently in the case of a grosbeak starling, which hatched to two parents who had never successfully bred before.

Gary Ward, Senior Bird Keeper said; ‘‘We have a hands off approach with our animals, as we don’t want to distract from their natural behaviour, especially when breeding or raising young. However this is not always possible, and you have to intervene or risk losing a baby. These parent birds had never had a baby before, so their genes are not part of the breeding programme in the UK. It is really important to have as diverse a gene pool in the zoo population as possible. Therefore we decided to hand rear this chick, ensuring it has a much better chance at survival in a mixed species exhibit like our Tropical House.’’

He added; ‘‘We had to feed the chick every two hours, on a diet of papaya and baby mice, and keep it nice and warm. We also took it turns to take it home – it makes things easier with the early morning feed! The baby has thrived, and it is now back in the Tropical House. It is still separated from its parents and the other grosbeak starlings, but it can see them, hear them and interact with them, so it won’t be long before we reintroduce them. The bird will be paired up with one of our other grosbeaks to form a breeding pair once it reaches maturity.’’

 

 

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