Zoo Celebrates First Blue-billed Curassow Chick

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Nashville Zoo’s avian staff welcomed their first Curassow chick on May 5.

After 30 days of incubation, Nashville Zoo keepers and veterinary staff assisted the chick in hatching. Keepers opted to assist the chick due to inactivity during the second day, after its initial pip in the shell membrane. Keepers noticed the shell membrane was dry instead of wet, and they decided intervention was necessary.

“This is a very valuable animal, and we need to do everything we can to help it survive,” said Shelley Norris, Nashville Zoo Avian Area Supervisor. “This egg hatching is significant because Curassows are critically endangered in the wild.”

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4_41137968845_508862919c_oPhoto Credits: Kelsey White/Nashville Zoo

There are only 54 Blue-billed Curassows in zoos across the country and only about 750 in the wild. The population has been in decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

This is the first chick born from breeding pair, Albert (3) and Victoria (5), who both arrived in Nashville in 2015.

The Curassows at Nashville Zoo have laid eggs in the past. However, the eggs were either not viable or the female knocked the eggs out of the nest.

“She [Victoria] has no idea that she’s supposed to sit on the eggs,” Norris said. “We think it’s because she’s young and things haven’t kicked in yet.”

Nashville Zoo’s avian staff is currently working with Houston Zoo and the Species Survival Plan on where to best place this chick.

The Blue-billed Curassow (Crax alberti) is a species of bird in the family Cracidae, which includes the Chachalacas, Guans, and Curassows.

The bird is native to Columbia. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest. The species is threatened by habitat loss and is currently classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN.

Blue-billed Curassows are believed to live in the same areas in Columbia as Cotton-top Tamarins, a primate species that was recently introduced in the Nashville Zoo’s new Expedition Peru exhibit. The Zoo is contributing to the conservation project “Proyecto Titi” that benefits sustaining the Cotton-top Tamarin population, which could potentially also benefit the Blue-billed Curassows with the installation of camera traps to monitor the species.

“We’re learning how best to care for them,” Norris said. “Right now, this species is just so critical, we basically are just keeping them alive in general until we can find a solution in the wild.”

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