12 01/12/2016

Keepers at Chester Zoo name exotic bluebird chicks Jurgen and Klopp

A football mad zookeeper at Chester Zoo has named two newly-hatched chicks Jurgen and Klopp.

Two rare Asian fairy-bluebird chicks have been named Jurgen and Klopp by keepers at Chester Zoo (6)
Two rare Asian fairy-bluebird chicks have been named Jurgen and Klopp by keepers at Chester Zoo

The two tiny Asian fairy-bluebirds were found abandoned by their parents shortly after hatching, meaning keepers had to intervene to help nurse them through to adulthood.

After hand-feeding the pair every 2 hours and striking up a close bond with the plucky duo, the zoo’s chief bird keeper chose to name them by paying homage to the Liverpool FC manager – a nod the fact that the chicks’ parents came to Chester from a zoo in Germany.

Wayne McLeod, team manager of birds at the zoo, said:

I gather he’s not much of a Tweeter, but when it comes to the world’s most popular football managers, Jurgen Klopp is near the top of the pecking order. Since he swooped into Liverpool his team have flown up the league table. He’s chirped at his players and they look unflappable in their Anfield nest. 

When I looked at our little Asian fairy-bluebird chicks, I knew they were red at heart, so who better to name them after! I couldn’t help but be drawn in by their charms – much like Jurgen Klopp himself. I hope he doesn’t mind if he has two new fans singing for him this season.

But as ever, there is a serious conservation message here too. Asian fairy-bluebirds are in decline across most of Asia and in some areas, they are now extinct. Although they are not classified as an endangered species, it’s fair to assume that nothing is safe anymore as song birds are captured across South East Asia for the illegal wildlife trade. The great news is that the pair have now successfully fledged so they will join a breeding programme aimed at boosting their numbers in zoos across Europe.

An adult female Asian fairy-bluebird at Chester Zoo

Andrew Owen, curator of birds, added:

As a Chelsea supporter, I’m not too keen on the names! But it’s important that we do everything we can to raise awareness of the devastating illegal wildlife trade which is causing a catastrophic songbird crisis in the rainforests of South East Asia.

The species wild number is continuing to decline across much of its native range, which stretches across Asia, starting from India through to the Philippines. The birds are just one of countless species of songbird being captured and sold on street markets as part of a widespread illegal wildlife trade which is leading to forest which once hummed with bird song to fall silent.

Chester Zoo’s Act for Wildlife conservation campaign has recently launched a new initiative to raise vital funds to build new aviaries at the breeding centre in Java, which are in danger of collapse due to the destructive humidity and termites. To help text BIRD44 £10 to 70070 to donate £10 towards the urgent appeal.

Asian fairy-bluebirds can be found by visitors to the zoo in the Realm of The Red Ape exhibit.