Breeding Exotic Birds at ZSL
The zoo arrivals that cause the greatest stir are usually the young rhino, lions and other large mammals. Little attention is paid to the smaller and more secretive family affairs of our exotic birds at London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo. Nevertheless, breeding and often hand rearing temperamental birds species is no mean feat and is an important contribution to our conservation breeding work.
London Zoo ZSL’s central location for small bird breeding. We have a very wide array of species: some that are highly endangered, others that are bred nowhere else in the UK. We also breed some non-endangered species that have very threatened relatives. The lessons we learn from breeding these may well be very useful in the future if we get the chance to breed their endangered relatives.
Some young can be left to be reared by their parents, which is generally best. This is especially important for the initial few days after hatching, when chicks’ digestive systems are not fully developed, so they need very soft regurgitated food that their parents give them.
Some captive birds, however, do not seem inclined towards parenting, and in these cases we take the eggs or chicks away to hand rear them. This is quite a feat- requiring 6.30 am to 9 pm stints of regular feeding. We are developing new ways of reducing this burden on staff without compromising the growth of chicks, with some success.
Take a look below at some of our breeding species: