Департамент культуры Moscow zoo managed to get offspring from rare Guinean Turaco for the first time in its history

Moscow zoo managed to get offspring from rare Guinean Turaco for the first time in its history

11.09.2018

Specialists of Moscow zoo have fed up two nestlings of the Red Book African bird, born on June 21. Immediately after the hatching, the nestlings were taken to a special closed area, where they have been manually fed by the employees of the ornithology department at optimal temperature, light and humidity for two months.

First weeks small turacos conditions caused big concerns, as they were very weak. However, thanks to the properly selected diet, a special feeding and care regimen, the nestlings have become stronger and now their lives are not in danger. Every three hours Turaco received a special mixture containing among other things probiotics and necessary vitamins and after a month specialists began to give fruits to the nestlings. In the wild parents burp a semi-digested food to their offspring - after being treated/recycled with gastric enzymes, the nestlings absorb the food better. They begin to try raw products at the age of three weeks and by the age of two months they completely switch to an adult diet. By the way, the Guinean Turaco are quite fastidious in food: they enjoy eating papaya, dates, bananas, figs, but apples and black raisins are absolutely banned – this is due to their hypersensitivity to ferrum. An improperly selected diet can cause serious liver problems up to a fatal outcome.

A special diet is not the only difficulty related to the maintenance and breeding of Guinean turaco. These amazing birds also need a certain temperature and humidity. Moreover, turaco is quite sensitive to drafties and does not withstand even small temperature drops. The reproduction of turaco in the conditions of the zoo is a very difficult task, there are only a few cases in our country in which specialists have succeeded in obtaining offspring from these birds. The main difficulties appear at the stage of pair formation. A male and a female can “not get along” or even refuse to contact. However, if the form of a pair was successful, zoologists gradually begin to stimulate the birds to get the offspring. Thus, Moscow zoo specialists hung the hand-made nests in the turaco aviary so that the birds could examine them and choose the most suitable for breeding nestlings. After the female lays eggs, both parents take part in the incubation process. It is also important to create optimal conditions for the birds to exclude any irritants: the turaco should feel completely safe in order to continue to take care of the nest. Since our turaco couple has the first offspring and no parental experience, the experts decided to feed the nestlings manually long before they had been hatched.

Now the nestlings are already more than two months old, they caught up with adults in size, and almost completely changed the black baby fluff on adult plumage: they have purple and green feathers, as well as a characteristic tuft on their head. Guinean turaco are one of the most spectacular birds in the collection of Moscow zoo. Their color is dominated by a rich green color, feathers are painted in bright crimson, and the abdomen and the back is almost black with violet-purple metallic glow.

The homeland of these birds is the western part of Africa along the Gulf of Guinea. The locals often hunted the turaco, there are also cases when they were caught and kept as domestic animals. In recent years, turaco have gained popularity due to their exotic and bright appearance, therefore they began to appear on the black market. However, experts do not recommend keeping these birds at home, as they require qualified care and special conditions that an inexperienced owner is simply not able to provide them.

You can admire the turaco nestlings growing up in Moscow zoo at the exhibition in the pavilion "House of birds". They actively master the skills of flight and curiously explore the world around them. Now small turacos are kept separately from parents and other representatives of the species. The nestlings need to adapt and grow up before they will be joined to the group. In total, zoo collection consists of 4 adult specimens - two males and two females born in 2015, in addition to nestlings hatched in June.