Baby Bird Takes Baby Bites: Rare Dalmatian Pelican Chick Being Hand-Raised at San Diego Zoo
An 11-day-old Dalmatian pelican chick gobbles its morning meal of fish at the
San Diego Zoo’s Avian Propagation Center. The young chick hatched at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park but was brought to the Zoo’s Avian Propagation Center after its parents were unable to raise it upon hatching. Animal care staff will hand-raise the bird for approximately 50 to 60 days, until it is strong enough to return to its flock at the Safari Park. The pelican chick will grow rapidly and should be covered in its downy feathers by three to four weeks of age.
Dalmatian pelicans are one of the rarest pelican species in the world and the largest of the pelican species. When fully fledged in six to seven months, the bird can measure five to six feet in length and have a wingspan of nine to 11 feet. They live and nest in freshwater wetlands and rivers throughout Europe and Asia and have gone extinct in some of their native regions. The loss of numbers is due to damage of the delicate wetland habitats that they rely on for breeding.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has the first North American breeding program for this vulnerable species. Since the breeding program was started in 2006, 34 chicks have been hatched.
Photo taken on March 17, 2015 by Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo
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