5 Jan 2016
Four rare white-winged ducklings have hatched at Chester Zoo. The new quartet has given a much needed boost to the endangered Asian duck species which, in the wild, is estimated to number no more than 350 individuals

The quartet of white-winged ducks – a species listed as endangered – were caught on camera for the first time enjoying their first dip with mum.

We’re one of just a handful of zoos in Europe that works with the Asian ducks.

It’s feared that wild numbers may be as low as just 350 individuals – a result of widespread habitat destruction throughout South East Asia, where the ducks were once found in abundance.

Andrew Owen, our curator of birds, said:

With the white-winged duck teetering on the edge of extinction, these hatchlings are an important step in the right direction for the species. The new ducklings are vital additions to the endangered species breeding programme, which is ensuring a genetically viable insurance population in zoos should the unthinkable happen and the ducks become lost from the wild.

The new arrivals take the number of white-winged ducks here at the zoo to eight.

White-wing duck facts

• White-winged ducks were historically widely distributed from north-eastern India and Bangladesh, through South East Asia to Sumatra and Java, Indonesia • The ducks live in stagnant or slow-flowing wetlands, within or adjacent to evergreen, deciduous or swamp forests. They depend on these areas for roosting and nesting, usually in tree-holes• Chester Zoo is one of the few institutions in Europe currently working with this Asian duck• The species is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered. They are threatened due to widespread forest and wetland destruction.