5 Nov 2021
Two precious red-billed curassow chicks hatched after their eggs were carefully incubated for 30 days by our team of bird experts.

Fewer than 200 red-billed curassows now remain in the wild and the species is on the verge of becoming extinct.

This is a result of deforestation and hunting in its native Brazil. The birds are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

We’re currently the only zoo in the UK to care for the species. Conservationists say the two new arrivals will play a vital role in a global conservation-breeding programme that is working to prevent the extinction of the species.

“This is such a significant moment for us, and for the species. When we saw that the parents had produced eggs we were overjoyed, but we quickly noticed that the female wasn’t sitting on them and, with the birds being so RARE, we just couldn’t take any chances. We stepped in and decided to artificially incubate them ourselves.”

Andrew Owen, our curator of birds.


Andrew, our curator of birds, continued to say:

“Once hatched, we carefully returned the chicks to the parent birds for rearing and they were quickly welcomed back into the family. It’s been great to use our avicultural experience to hatch the eggs and wonderful to see the parent birds rear their chicks naturally. This technique may help in the conservation of this species. This is an incredible achievement for the whole team who we’re very proud of.

“On hatching, the plum-sized chicks weigh just 100g, but they’ll grow to be 3.5kg. Around the same size as a turkey, after just one year. That’s why in their native Brazil they’ve been hunted for meat by local people and feral dogs. They, like many other bird species, are declining due to habitat loss, forest fragmentation and deforestation.

“These magnificent birds are on the verge of becoming extinct in the wild, with estimates of less than 200 left in the wild. For that reason, these two chicks are very important additions to the global population and the conservation efforts to help save this unique species from extinction.”

Red-billed curassows are endemic to the Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil and have been restricted to tiny areas in the rainforest. Adult red-billed curassows are mostly black, but their chicks are a speckled brown, which helps to camouflage them from predators in the dappled leaves of the rainforest.

These birds live to around the age of 20 and their natural predators include big cats such as jaguars and ocelots, as well as eagles.