Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Louisville Zoo's Rare Duck

From a Louisville Zoo press release:

Louisville Zoo recently hatched a Madagascar teal duckling, one of the world’s rarest members of the duck family and a species seriously threatened by extinction. There are only about 2,000 Madagascar teal ducks left in the wild (in Madagascar) and 200 in zoos.

The duckling, named Gerry, was born May 20 and is the first Madagascar teal ever born at the Louisville Zoo.

The egg was found by a keeper while doing daily routine cleaning after the mother had abandoned the egg. It was immediately taken to an incubator in the Zoo’s bird rearing area. The incubation period for a Madagascar teal is 27-28 days. Soon, Louisville Zoo Bird Curator Gary Michael heard the duckling peeping inside the shell. Duplicating what the mother might do in the wild with her beak, Michael rubbed his fingernail on the shell for hours letting the duckling know someone was there. After the duckling worked to try and break out of its shell without success, Michael poked a hole in the shell to assist it.

“Some birds die in the process of trying to break out of their shell,” Michael said. “After hours passed and it did not break out, I stepped in to assist. We couldn’t afford to lose this highly endangered duck. At the Zoo we not only try to replicate the natural world, we work to be better than nature with our unmatched care and husbandry.”

The main factors causing the Madagascar teal to be endangered in the wild are the lost of habitat, degradation of wetlands and hunting.

The duckling is currently off exhibit in a bird rearing area and is eating grain, hard boiled eggs, insects and vitamin supplements three times a day. Michael has also set up mirrors in the duckling’s area to form the visual illusion of other ducklings for socialization and to minimize the imprinting on him and other Zoo keepers.


Unknown said...

rubbing the eggshell for hours to let the chick inside know that someone was there? people like him deserve a medal

Rawpower95 said...

I've been volunteering at the Zoo for a few years now, and I have to say, some of the greatest people I have ever known work there.