Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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All I can hear as I type this is ‘cheep, cheep, cheep’, because … we have some new chicks. We have four and they are Red Jungle Fowl. It is from this species that many common chickens are descended. They are the original recipe! They are so tiny, very fluffy and extremely cute and only weighed 30 grams when they arrived. 30 grams!

The chicks are currently in our busiest room. This is so, like our other birds, they can become used to as many things as possible. They are very robust already, chasing our heels as we walk around, collecting the odd maggot that is thrown down for them. Yes … I said maggots! Maggots and crumble are what they are eating now, and today they started eating endive. Soon they will get fly pupae, mealworms, fruit and vegetables. Merryn is not very impressed about having to handle maggots. When I got her to do it yesterday she squealed at me!

Felicity will be their main trainer. The chicks are fed four times a day and get played with as often as possible. We have even taken them outside. Luckily they don’t go too far as we need to watch out for anything that might try to eat them. Unfortunately at this age they are the perfect bite-sized treat for many of the native animals in the zoo.

trainer and chick 250

Each chick is marked so we can tell them apart and of course named. Felicity has just decided on what to call them. They are now ‘Popcorn’, ‘Burger’, ‘Carrion’ and ‘Nugget’. In the past three days they’ve gained on average 3 grams each.

This group of Red Jungle Fowl will be trained to run across our stage at the beginning of the QBE Free Flight Bird Show. To do so, Felicity will teach them to run from one place to another. We start at the spot we want the chickens to run to and then gradually increase the distance. Hopefully within a few months we’ll have four more chickens in the already exciting flurry that only Red Jungle Fowl can provide.

- Brendan

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