Double duckling delight! Two rare white-winged ducklings stand beak-to-beak after hatching at Chester Zoo. The arrival of the new duo has given a boost to the endangered species with numbers in the wild thought to be as low as just 250.
The arrival of the two white-winged ducklings has given a boost to a species listed as endangered in the wild by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Chester Zoo is one of just a handful of zoos in Europe currently working with the Asian duck species and experts fear few as just 250 could now remain as a result of widespread destruction to their habitats throughout their native South East Asia.
Research has highlighted that populations are severely dwindling in countries where they would once have been commonly found and can now only be found in small pockets alongside river banks in India and Indonesia. In places like Java they have already vanished altogether and have not been seen for many years in Thailand and Malaysia.
Chester Zoo’s curator of birds, Andrew Owen, said:
Our two new white-winged ducklings are very important birds given that their numbers are extremely low in the wild. Our dedicated bird team will be keeping a very close eye on them to make sure they make it through to adulthood.
This species of duck is on the edge of extinction and these new ducklings will contribute to the European breeding programme, ensuring that zoos have an insurance population if these birds are lost completely in the wild.
Our field programmes team is also working very hard over in South East Asia to try and preserve the areas in which this, and many other bird species, can be found so that they all have a better chance of survival.
White-wing duck facts
- White-winged ducks were historically widely distributed from north-eastern India and Bangladesh, through South-East Asia to Java and Sumatra, 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.