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'Undertaker Birds' Fly in to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: February 1, 2021 10:15 pm

whipsnade marabou storks

A marabou stork at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Photo Credit: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

A pair of marabou storks otherwise known as 'the undertaker bird' are the newest residents at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in the United Kingdom.

Unlike most storks which are associated with bringing new life the marabou stork gained its nickname from huge, dark, cloak-like wingspan and their taste for rotten carcasses.

At 1.5m (5ft) tall with a 2.7m (9ft) wingspan the marabou stork is an intimidating presence. Despite their bare throat sac, hunched appearance and morbid moniker the new arrivals have still won the hearts of their keepers.

Jamie Graham, Head Bird Keeper at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo said: “Marabou Storks may not have a very pleasant-sounding nickname but they are a vitally important species for their eco-system and need recognition for that. These two will help us share the importance of the species and hopefully help a few more people see past their gloomy demeanour.”

“Their wild cousins living in Africa eat a wide variety of foods including meat from carcasses and food waste, often left by humans, helping to avoid the spreading of pathogens, which is essential to our environment.”

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Marabou storks are up there with the largest birds on Earth today.

Two male marabou storks have come to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo as part of the European breeding program (EEP) to help protect their species. They will hopefully be joined by two females soon.

The marabou stork is best known from its appearance in the opening sequence of the original The Lion King film. This pair have yet to be seen by visitors having arrived in December during the zoo's third closure.

Jamie Graham continues: “The last time Whipsnade Zoo was home to marabou storks was in the 1970s and we are so pleased to welcome them back. We are looking forward to our newest arrivals greeting our visitors when we are able –  with our Zoo closed once again and our vital source of income cut off, we’re facing a difficult start to 2021 and ZSL needs the public’s support more than ever.”    

whipsnade marabou storks

A marabou stork at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Photo Credit: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Learn more about the marabou stork here – Marabou Stork | The Animal Facts


Learn more about ZSL Whipsnade Zoo on their website – ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

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