Second marabou stork chick hatched
Published 30/08/2011 | 15:06
It has the looks only a mother could love but keepers at a UK zoo are overjoyed at the progress made by only the second marabou stork to be hatched in the country.
Described as the "world's ugliest bird", the chick has a bald, pink, scabby head, huge bill and a taste for carrion.
Some people may find the marabou stork hard to love, but the impressive bird can stand up to 4ft 11in tall, have a wingspan approaching 9ft 6in metres and weigh up to 1st 5lb, making it one of the largest flying birds in the world.
It is the first time a marabou stork has been hatched at Paignton Zoo, Devon, and only the second time the species has bred in the UK. The other chick was hatched at a zoo in the Midlands.
Curator of birds Jo Gregson said: "We have had marabou storks at Paignton Zoo for as long as I can recall.
"We put this pair together last year. The female came from Paulton's Park and the male from Marwell Zoo, both in Hampshire."
The female scavenger bird laid two eggs with one hatching on May 11.
"They can be very tricky to keep as they can be aggressive towards each other," Mr Gregson said. However, despite their turbulent relationship, keepers said their new purpose-built stork breeding aviary beside a lake may have helped love to blossom.
"It is a very good space for them because it provides separate sleeping spaces, water to fish in and perches of different heights," added Mr Gregson."I think it's the main reason they have bred now."
The marabou stork is normally found on the grassy plains and water margins of Africa where it can sometimes been seen flying with vultures to seek carcasses.