Paradise Wildlife Park is excited to announce the birth of not one but two rare Black Hornbill chicks, the first Black Hornbill Chicks to hatch across Europe in 2 years and the first to ever be hatched at the Park!
Black hornbill’s (Anthracoceros malayanus) are a species of hornbill native to Asia (found in Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand) and found mainly in lowland forest habitats. Their conservation status is currently vulnerable but their population is thought to be in decline due to high levels of deforestation. These chicks mark a major milestone in conservation breeding as currently only 24 black hornbills are registered in the EEP (EAZA Ex-situ Programme) breeding program across the whole of European Zoos, with no chicks being born in Europe last year or this year.
This is the first time the Park’s breeding pair Mulu and Darwin have hatched babies but both are doing an amazing job. Since arriving at the park in October 2020, Mulu has settled in very well. Introducing the pair went as smoothly as an introduction could go with Darwin showing an instant liking for his new partner. Since being introduced Darwin has done all he can to prove he is a worthy potential mate, providing Mulu with lots of attention and food. Throughout the duration Darwin acted as a great partner providing Mulu with plenty of mud, leaves and twigs to build up her nest. After sealing herself into the nest box Mulu became completely reliant on Darwin for food which he has provided in abundance. To say Darwin has been the ‘Perfect’ partner and potential Dad would be an understatement. Thanks to the cameras the zoo-keeping team hid in the nest box they were able to see that shortly after entering the nest box in February Mulu had laid 4 eggs and we are very pleased to say 2 of them have hatched! They both have remained attentive and have been providing the chicks with all the food they require whilst Mulu keeps them nice and safe, incubating them in the nest box.
The bird team at Paradise have worked hard to create a favourable breeding environment. First the team built multiple nest boxes which the pair tested out and chose their favourite. The team have also made sure there was an abundance of nesting material as well as Darwin find his own by tearing leaves of the trees in his aviary. A large variety of food choices provided in the lead up to the breeding season as well as plenty throughout and using a misting system to replicate a humid climate as Black hornbills will naturally nest after the wet season. Since the chicks have hatched the team have been monitoring Mulu and the chicks via the cameras and Darwin in person and are happy with their progress so far. Although early stages all of the signs so far have been nothing but positive. The bird team will continue to monitor the chicks throughout the early stages via cameras. If the chicks successfully make it past early stages towards fledging, we expect to see them break out of the nest box with mum Mulu around mid to late May 2022.
These two chicks will add to the genetic diversity and population of this vital breeding program and create an insurance policy for Black hornbills in the wild. With little research known about the current population size of black hornbills in the wild, it is important to keep captive populations healthy. It is also possible that in the future this breeding program could lead to increasing ex-situ populations via release programs. The breeding program is focused on increasing the captive genetic diversity of this species and using black hornbills as a model species to learn about the captive breeding of hornbills in general. It is also possible that in the future this breeding program could lead to increasing ex-situ populations via release programs.
Have you visited our Black Hornbills at our Birds of Paradise: