Group visits to ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
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Longleat’s pelican chick to fly the nest

Longleat Safari Park are preparing for the first pelican chick to have been successfully reared by its parents in 22 years to fly the nest.

The first place in Britain to hand rear pink backed pelicans, Longleat are now celebrating the first time a chick has been hatched and fully cared for by its parents.

In the wild pelicans usually lay one to three eggs, but chicks often don’t survive due to sibling aggression. Keepers believe the recent success is due to a new initiative which has gradually exposed the adult birds to more human interaction which has, in turn, made them more relaxed parents.

The pelican chick was born at the end of last year is now set to begin a new life at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire.

Pink-backed pelicans are found in Africa, southern Arabia and India and get their name from the fact that some birds have a pinkish colouring to the feathers on their backs. The birds have a wingspan of close to three metres and their beaks can be nearly 40 centimetres long.

Georgina Barnes, who looks after the pink-backed pelicans at Longleat, is also the European Studbook keeper for the species.

“In 1994 we were the first place in the UK to successfully use incubators to hatch and then hand rear chicks,” said Georgina.

“However we have always struggled to get the parents to look after their own chicks. Over the past year our team have been working on getting them more accustomed to human interaction.

“This has resulted in the adult birds being more relaxed around us and this appears to have been the key to getting them to become better parents

“Previously they have been able to hatch the eggs but none of them have been able to care for the resulting chick for more than 30 days.

“This time the adults sailed past that date and proved to be excellent first-time parents,” she added.

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