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13.01.2017

With a sudden tap from inside one of these pale green eggs, life begins for this Double-Wattled Cassowary. [img]CassowayEGG.jpg/img] With 5 chicks ready to hatch in this clutch, co-director of Natural Bridge Zoo, Debbie Mogensen is an expert in this field. With over ten years of experience breeding and raising these ratites, Natural Bridge Zoo will normally have 6-10 cassowary chicks per year, making the zoo one of the largest breeders of this species in the country. To achieve that, Mogensen says she will remove the eggs from the adults and incubate them for 48 days. The removal encourages the adults to lay more. After these cassowary chicks hatch, keeping the flock together can pose a bit of a problem. So staff members of Natural Bridge Zoo, where the birds live, came up with an innovative solution. Using a brown feather duster tied to a string, staff members can lead the flock to follow. "The chicks have been with the feather duster since they were born, so they are bonded with it" the zoo's director, Karl Mogensen explained. “Our success is due to the expertise of our bird staff and the extreme care and diligence in the adult birds’ and chicks’ dietary requirements,” Mogensen said. He said the zoo started breeding these birds because they were unusual and historically difficult to breed. So he wanted to try. The Southern Cassowary is classified as "vulnerable" on the endangered species list and are native to the tropical forests of New Guinea, and the nearby islands of Northeastern Australia. Being a flightless bird, cassowaries are the third tallest and second heaviest living bird in the world; they are closely related to the ostrich and emu. [img]IMG_2152.JPG/img] Mogensen said his wife, Debbie Mogensen, and other staff members at Natural Bridge Zoo spend a lot of time exercising the chicks on the lawn, several times a day or more! Being a "vulnerable" species, Natural Bridge Zoo believes it's important to preserve this species, with responsible breeding programs, to help the species from becoming extinct. When they become juveniles, these hatchlings will become representatives for this species to help create breeding programs worldwide, that will contribute to educating the public about wildlife conservation.
Submitted by Timothy Sepi

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