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Baby Jessie set to get the blues

Published date: 16 July 2014 |
Published by: Steve Creswell
Read more articles by Steve Creswell


 

DESPITE looking like a cross between a velociraptor and a plucked chicken, this strange-looking chick is actually a rare parrot.

The month-old hyacinth macaw chick – born to parents James Bond and Miss Moneypenny – is being hand-reared by keepers at Chester Zoo after it was hatched in an incubator.

The chick is receiving round-the-clock care and is so small it is being kept in a tupperware tub that is doubling up as a crib.

Keepers have given the youngster the unisex name Jessie, as it will be some time before it develops feathers that they can send away for DNA analysis in order to sex the youngster. 

Keeper Karen Neech said: “It’s hard to believe that our chick will eventually start to spring some beautiful deep blue feathers – at the moment it looks more like a dinosaur crossed with a plucked chicken! 

“But with all of the care and attention we’re giving, it’s growing bigger and stronger by the day. At the moment I’m feeding it a special mixture of powdered vitamins every two hours between 6am until 11pm. This will go on for around three months until the bird is weaned and can feed by itself.

“At this stage our new charge is doing really well – we’re really pleased.” 

Hyacinth macaws are the world’s largest parrot and are found in Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. They are considered an endangered species as wild populations have undergone rapid reductions in recent years due to the illegal pet trade and habitat loss as a result of land clearance for cattle ranching.

The striking birds also have a naturally slow reproductive rate, which means that once a population is reduced through over trapping and habitat loss, it takes a long time to recover.

Karen added: “The hatching of this chick is a major step forward in our efforts to ensure a healthy insurance population of these stunning birds exists in zoos. On top of that, the skills the team develop hand-rearing the chick at the zoo can be applied to our conservation programmes in the wild – something we’ve been able to do successfully with species such as the endangered echo parakeet in Mauritius.”

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