Black stork family at the zoo produced offspring

June 9
Parks and pedestrian areas

A black stork nestling was born at the Moscow Zoo. This bird is listed in the endangered species books of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and other countries. The population of black storks in the world is steadily decreasing.

“These birds are very secretive and cautious. Unlike their closest relatives, the white storks, they keep away from people. For the birds to feel comfortable we have planted a Virginia creeper around their aviary fence, which serves as a natural cover. We have never achieved stable breeding of these birds before, except once in 2014. Black storks are so anxious by nature that may break their eggs if there are too many visitors at the zoo. However, our ornithologists have found a way out: they put dummies in the nest and take real eggs into an incubator. When the young birds are about to pip, they return the eggs to the parents,” said Svetlana Akulova, Director General of the Moscow Zoo.

The storks tirelessly care for the hatched nestling and do not leave the nest even in heavy rain. They cover the young stork with their wings to keep it dry. So far its body is covered with soft white down, through which adult black feathers are only starting to appear.

Zoologists try not to disturb the family. The leave the feed shared by adult storks with the nestling in the aviary and watch the birds from afar. Their diet includes sprats, insects and small rodents.

The black storks’ aviary is in the old part of the Moscow Zoo, next to the Birds House. There are five storks there, including the nestling. People can watch the young stork growing online while the zoo is closed for visitors. The videos will be posted on the zoo pages in social networks.

When the nestling grows up it will be relocated to another zoo, in Russia or abroad.

Black storks are large birds of prey. They can reach three kilos in weight and one metre in height. They have long limbs and neck, and their entire body is covered with glittery feathers with a purple-green tint, except the white chest and belly. The bright red beak is straight and pointed.

Black storks live in Eurasian forests from Spain to China. They migrate to South Africa and India for the winter. The birds make nests high up in the trees next to water bodies and hunt for food in swamps and rivers. During hunting they stand in the water with their wings stretched over the water surface looking for prey in the depths. In the wild, storks live in solitude. They only get together with other storks during breeding and migration.

Like many other institutions in the city, the Moscow Zoo is closed to visitors for the time being because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, people can watch the zoo residents online. They can monitor the life of giant pandas, orangutans, squirrel monkeys and Diana monkeys in their enclosures. Demonstration feeding of the offspring are also recorded on video.

Over a thousand young animals were born in the Moscow Zoo last year. The offspring include: African ground hornbills, grey-winged trumpeter, Humboldt penguins, Kirk's dik-diks, European lynxes, Dagestan turs, crocodile newts and other animals. Sumatran orangutans, blue sheep, Mexican beaded lizards, seals and lion-tailed macaque also produced their young.

Rare Dalmatian pelicans and bush dogs were also born at the zoo last year. The maned wolf, a very rare species from the dog family, also had cubs. A family of Humboldt penguins produced offspring in March. Now, the Moscow Zoo has the biggest number of these birds in Russia, including nine breeding couples and a dozen birds of different ages, from fledglings to adult penguins. In total, there are 35 of them. A rare ring-tailed lemur gave birth to a cub this spring.


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