THE RESCUE OF A SOUTHERN GROUND HORNBILL CHICK

05.08.2020

The number of southern ground hornbills in nature is catastrophically small: they reproduce very slowly - on average, only 1 chick survives in 9-10 years. Southern ground hornbills live only in Africa, south of the equator - in southern Kenya, Angola, northern Namibia and Botswana. Local tribes consider them sacred animals.

 
Moscow Zoo zoologists managed to create optimal conditions for life and reproduction of these rarest birds, and today we have the largest group of southern ground hornbills among the world's zoos.

 
Two more chicks were born in April. This is a great piece of luck, because in zoos usually hatch one chick at best. We have southern ground hornbills breeding for the fourth year in a row. This time there were some complications, but thanks to the high professionalism of our zoologists, both chicks survived.

“One of the chicks could not hatch from the egg. We could already hear its squeaking, but the chick did not come out. We made a small hole in the shell to let the air in otherwise it could suffocate. They waited for another day, but the chick did not hatch. After we made the hole wider, it began to get out on his own. That is when we saw that he had a crooked beak; it was because of this that he could not get through the shell. After that, we fed him artificially. In nature the chick would not have survived and we decided to name baby Nika - victory,” said Svetlana Akulova, Moscow Zoo General Director.

 
Now the chicks are strong and eat adult food already: mice, insects, berries and fruits. They imitate adults in everything and participate in special trainings. Zoologists are constantly developing various environment enrichment for the southern ground hornbills. They have well developed cognitive abilities, so in the Zoo the birds are given many intellectual tasks. They find different objects in the aviary, show each other, and can even lure visitors with these objects. But do not try to take it away – they are not sharing.

In total, a group of 9 southern ground hornbills lives in the Zoo: a breeding pair - Karl and Klara, five younger ones who were born in 2017, 2018 and 2019, as well as two newborn birds. Their aviary is located in the Bird House in the Old Territory.