7th of November 2013 – Question Time

As the breeding year draws to a close it that time of year when zoos are reviewing the year in terms of breeding successes and failures. Many species of zoo animal are critically endangered and breeding programmes are run by Studbooks to ensure regular breeding is ongoing to maintain populations, and to make sure regular exchanges of animals are taking place to mix bloodlines. Many of our birds fall into this and it’s now the time of year that we are starting to get requests for information from the studbook holders and these are mainly in the form of questionnaires.
This week I have completed two surveys already. The first was on the Humboldt Penguin.  At a EAZA (European Association of Zoos & Aquariums) level breeding programmes fall into two categories, EEP (European Endangered species Programme) & ESB (European Studbook). Humboldts are run as a EEP which is the most intensive type of population management for a species kept in European zoos. Each EEP has a coordinator who is assisted by a Species Committee. The coordinators tasks include collecting information on the status of all the animals of the species for which they are responsible kept in EAZA zoos, producing a studbook, carrying out demographical and genetical analyses, and producing a plan for the future management of the species. They then make recommendations for the year on which animals should breed or not breed, which individual animals should go from one zoo to another, and so on.
The Humboldt EEP is the 11th largest studbook in the world and has recently been taken on by Twycross Zoo. Their survey requested information on our group from the years 2009 through to 2012. This was to include births, deaths and any transfers to and from other collections. It also asked after our future plans for the group, were we after more birds or looking to move some on. Naturally I said we would be interested in any birds that were available.
The second EAZA survey of the week was a space survey for 5 different groups of birds, with the aim of determining who has what and future plans. This is then to go to a student writing a thesis on Zoos and nature conservation Contribution of collection planning in zoos to nature conservation. The groups covered were Ratites (Cassowary/Rhea), Pelicans, Cranes, Pheasants & Hornbills and information provided included current group size, breeding successes, enclosure types (indoor or out) and what other species they are held with.
It’s not just zoo surveys we take part in. With many Universities and Colleges providing zoology and animal management courses we are also inundated with surveys and questionnaires from students writing dissertations or projects. This week alone I have completed a survey on Nicobar Pigeons and Yellow Shouldered Amazons for students in Germany & Russia!
Now to catch up on the past 2 weeks…
The cold and wet is now really starting to kick in so many of the birds are now being shut in at night. These include:
The Caribbean Flamingos
Pink Backed Pelicans
Marabou Storks
Coscoroba Swan
Many species of wader (Avocets etc)
We have also moved one of the Hammerkops off show as he had no access to indoor and heat in his existing aviary
One of our Roul Roul Partridge chicks has departed to a private breeder who placed the birds dad on breeding loan with us at the start of the year.
The Red Fronted Macaw chick has fledged and looks very scruffy but will feather up fully soon
Wildlife wise the Sparrowhawk has been proactive this week, chasing the feral pigeons the live on site. No sight or sound of any Redwing or Fieldfare yet but we are monitoring the Nature Area closely to see what is going to drop in for the winter
Thanks for reading

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