29 Jun 2011

Three Philippine cockatoo chicks – the first to be born at the zoo – are currently being hand-reared after recently hatching in incubators.

Andy Woolham, Team Manager of Parrots and Penguins, said: “I might risk the wrath of my wife in saying this, but after 19 years of trying, breeding these birds is just as exciting as my wedding day and the birth of my son.

“The species has a very aggressive nature and that makes successful breeding a very rare occurrence. That’s why this is incredibly significant for their conservation.

“We have been trying to persuade them to breed since the first birds arrived at the zoo in 1992. During this time there has been a programme of dietary and environmental review, which has helped us to make changes to how we look after them and ultimately resulted in this success.

“It has been a long burning ambition of mine and I just can’t stop smiling.

“It is so important that a secure safety net population of this species is established in zoos.”

The rearing of the rare birds marks a first for the zoo and they are now receiving round-the-clock care in their precious early days.

“The three hatchlings look little like tiny dinosaurs at the moment. But they are being hand reared and if things go well, they will soon grow into replicas of their proud parents.”

Also known as the red vented cockatoo, the species is critically endangered in the wild due to a combination of illegal trapping for the pet trade and habitat loss.

We support conservation programmes for the species in its natural home and work closely with organisations in the Philippines. These efforts have seen numbers increase over recent years but the species still remains under threat.