Rio off to a flying start!
Monday 28 October 2002
London Zoo breeds the UK's first aracari
Keepers at London Zoo's Bird House have achieved a UK no.1, not with their beautiful singing voices but with the first successful breeding of a black-necked aracari. The chick named Rio, hatched on 10 September 2002 following the removal of his egg for incubation and has since been raised by a puppet parent.
The egg was incubated for 17 days, then with a little help from the keepers and a pair of tweezers Rio came into the world weighing 11g.
The first few days were touch and go but with the help of his dedicated Bird House staff he slowly began to pull round. To ensure Rio didn't bond with the keepers, a puppet parent bird was made out of a sock and a hoover nozzle and then decorated to resemble the adult aracari. The puppet is attached to the nesting box to provide comfort and security for Rio, but is also used by the keepers to stimulate the chick during feeding times.
Rio eats approximately 20g of food every two hours over a six hour period, his diet compromises of meat and insects for protein, salt free organic peanut butter, tofu and then various fruits including papaya, guava, grapes and banana.
Paul Harrington, Head Keeper at the Bird House said, "This really is fantastic news for us here at the Zoo, to have achieved the first successful UK rearing of a black-necked ari-cari. The staff in the Bird House have worked tirelessly around the clock and Rio is progressing daily, it won't be long before he is independent."
Notes to editors:
- Black-necked aracari are part of the toucan family of birds
- In the wild their diet includes fruits and berries, small reptiles and birds eggs
- The average life expectancy of an aracari is 15 years
- Aracari pair bond. The female nests in a tree hole, with the chicks fledging after 40-45 days. Toucans are not strong fliers, their main predator being larger birds of prey
- Birds will become bonded with whoever is rearing them, be it a mother bird or a keeper. This process is called imprinting. To avoid this happening and to ensure that the baby bird grows up knowing its own kind, puppet parents are often used
For further information please contact the ZSL Press Office
Leana Rochman, Press Officer
Tel: 020 7449 6361
Out of office mobile: 07889 043843
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