Monday 19 August 2002
Hand reared superb fruit dove has chick and proves he's no muppet!
Squeaks, the world's first puppet reared superb fruit dove has become a first time father to a bouncing baby chick, Kina, who came into the world at London Zoo on Saturday 28th July, weighing in at an impressive seven grams. From Squeaks behaviour it is clear that having a puppet parent has been successful, as he has learnt to behave and interact with other superb fruit doves naturally.
Squeaks was hand reared following the removal of his egg for artificial incubation, when it became clear that the parent birds weren't properly incubating it and he hatched on the 1st March 1998 weighing in at 5.7g. For the first time ever within the species, Squeaks was successfully given a puppet parent to avoid any unnatural bonding with the keepers, and he soon turned to his substitute parent for food and brooding.
Toy boy Squeaks, four and a half years and his partner, eleven years, both shared in the incubation period of the single egg, which lasted about 19 days, and both are involved in the rearing of Kina. Superb fruit doves originate from New Guinea and Northern Australia and will usually breed, producing a single egg within a year of hatch.
For the first week a superb fruit dove chick is fed on the parent's 'crop milk' a curd like substance produced by the adult containing a growth promoter which brings on early development, with the chick attaining 25% of its adult body weight within the first week. The chick will then develop his parents taste palette enjoying tropical fruits such as guava and papaya (paw paw).
Paul Harrington, Head Keeper of the Bird House said, "This is a fantastic achievement for us as well as a world first. It proves that using a puppet to hand rear a chick really works. We have successfully reared a cockatoo in this way, but to raise a dove and see it pair bond, interact and breed naturally is just great."
Notes to Editors:
Pictures of Squeak as a chick with his puppet parent and of the proud new family are available upon request.
- Kina is the currency of Papua New Guinea
- Squeaks had to be fed eight times a day over 16 hours for the first ten days when he weighed in at 25g, close to 25% of his adult body weight. By the 58th day when he weighed 103g hand feeding ceased and Squeaks was able to stand firmly on his own two feet
- Squeaks is named after the noise he made as a chick to get attention
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