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Taronga Western Plains Zoo Breed Endangered Plains Wanderers

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: October 23, 2020 10:30 am

plains wander taronga western plains zoo

The plains wanderer chicks in their aviary

Photo Credit: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is celebrating another breeding success for the endangered plains wanderer. This is only the second clutch to hatch at the zoo since they commenced their breeding program in late 2018.

This clutch includes four chicks and has been born to the same parents which raised two chicks earlier this year.

“It’s so exciting to see further breeding success with our Plains-wanderer population,” said Plains-wanderer keeper, Mark O’Riordan.

“Initially the female had five chicks hatch but sadly one chick didn’t survive. It is uncommon for Plains-wanderers to have five chicks in one clutch, so it was a possibility that one could be lost.”

While both parents typically share incubation of the eggs this time it was observed that the female completed the entire incubation. Normally the female will begin the incubation while she finishes laying her eggs. Once this is complete she leaves and the male finishes the incubation. This allows her to leave and breed again.

“With this clutch, the female completed the full 23 day incubation which has never been observed before in the wild or an aviary environment. The successful hatching of all five chicks initially may be due to the female’s larger body mass and the fact the male may not have been large enough to brood them all.”

“It is really exciting to see this pair continue to produce chicks. Every chick hatched is so important to the long-term survival of this species as there is as few as 500 birds remaining in the wild,” said Mark.

plains wander taronga western plains zoo

The plains wanderer chicks in their aviary

Photo Credit: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

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Taronga is hoping to experience further breeding success this year. “We have been seeing positive breeding behaviour from two other Plains-wanderer pairs, which we continue to observe daily via CCTV. If nothing eventuates these birds will be swapped with individuals from other pairs to allow them an alternate mate choice,” added Mark.

Plains wanderers may breed year round with a spike in breeding observed from August to March. Typically 2-4 chicks will hatch which are cared for by the parent for 2 months.

Keepers take a hands-off approach to raise the plains wanderers. Monitoring is done using CCTV and the keepers will not see the chicks till six weeks old when they will have their first health check. At this time keepers will determine the genders of the hatchlings.

“A large part of the program here in Dubbo is to continue to learn more about this unique, shy and elusive species so we can continue to build baseline information that will help all partners in the program and ultimately help save the species from extinction,” said Mark.

Taronga conservation society are working with a range of partners to ensure the survival of the plains wanderer. These birds are ranked #1 on the EDGE ((Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered) list due to their high extinction risk and evolutionary uniqueness.

Since 2001 populations of the plains wanderer have decreased by 90%.

Learn more about Taronga Western Plains Zoo on their website – Taronga Western Plains Zoo

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