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Madeleine Smitham
Macca and Chuck Cassowary

Taronga Zoo’s striking Cassowary pair have joined each other on exhibit just in time for breeding season.

Chuck and Macca were recently introduced in the dappled Rainforest exhibit next to Taronga’s Lemur Forest Adventure.

Bird Keeper, Michael Shiels, said, “The duo have been together for a few weeks now and are getting on great, like a house on fire. We are optimistic that we may have a nest by early October.”

Should Macca lay an egg, it will be Chuck who will care for it as male Cassowaries are solely responsible for incubating the eggs and raising the young. When born, Cassowaries are brown and white, only developing their distinctive, vibrant colours once they mature.

Australian Southern Cassowaries are the world’s third-largest bird and the second heaviest – they can be up to 1.8 metres tall and weigh more than an emu.

While their name comes from two Papuan words: ‘kasu’ meaning horned and ‘weri’ meaning head, the Australian Southern Cassowary is found along Far North Queensland’s coast.

Remarkably, Cassowaries are the only animals capable of distributing and propagating the seeds of more than 70 tree and plant species – this makes them crucial to rainforest diversity!

Sadly, Cassowaries are endangered. The birds and their habitat are under threat from land clearing, fencing, dog attacks and road accidents.

Visitors can see Chuck and Macca in their Cassowary exhibit and even catch a daily free talk and feed during Taronga’s Festival of the Birds this October. 

By Madeline Bowmer

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