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1987

Hand-rearing zoo animals

By Penny Rudd

When I was asked if I would be prepared to take on the hand-rearing of one of the zoo's unusual Coleto Mynahs, I knew that I was in for a time of hard work. Afterwards, I could happily say that it was worth it.

Gary, as he was named, was a real character. When he arrived in my office, he was six days old and he weighed a mere 16 grams, was the size of a walnut and completely bald. I couldn't describe him as beautiful, interesting is a better way of putting it, however he imposed his will on office life in an uncanny way.

I remember him growning, gaining weight and becoming fully feathered - apart from the completely bald patches which remained around his eyes. The Coleto Mynah is a native of the Philippine and Sulu Islands. The adult pair we had in 1987 managed to rear one chick from several broods and, having failed with their first two clutches it was decided that we'd attempt to hand-rear the one chick of the third clutch. Hence the arrival of Gary into office life.

Initially, he required feeding a small amount every 15 to 20 minutes, from 7am to 11pm. It was fascinating to watch his tiny feathers grow and develop and, once his eyes opened at around ten days after I received him, he grew in leaps and bounds.

After about four weeks, he started to feed himself, although this was rather haphazard at first. He learnt to pick things up, and proudly scattered paper and pencils all over the room. He chattered away happily to himself all day long, and used to divefrom wherever he was perching to land on the head of anyone entering the room.

Taken from 'Chez Nous' - 1987
Photo credit: Chris Vere

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