2 Saddle-billed Storks hatch at Toledo Zoo - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

2 Saddle-billed Storks hatch at Toledo Zoo

The stork chicks are currently off exhibit. (Courtesy of Judith Wolfe) The stork chicks are currently off exhibit. (Courtesy of Judith Wolfe)
TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

Two Saddle-billed Stork chicks have hatched at the Toledo Zoo: one on Feb. 10 and one on March 3. The chicks are growing and developing off-exhibit at the zoo's Avian Breeding Center.

These chicks are the zoo's first Saddle-billed Stork chicks in six years, and the ninth successful hatching of their species at the zoo since 2000, when the zoo became only the second zoo in the world to rear this species. Nationwide, just 67 of these birds live in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

As Africa's largest stork species, Saddle-billed Stork chicks grow fast. Although they weighed only about 3.9 ounces at hatching, the older chick now weighs about 3.8 pounds, and the younger chick weighs just over a pound. The older chick also now stands more than 2 feet tall, which is nearly half of its adult height.

The chicks' parents were not able to care for them safely, so keepers are hand-rearing them. But since it's important the young birds bond with their own species -- rather than their human caretakers -- the team uses a special stork head puppet handcrafted at the zoo to feed the chicks.

The species' key distinguishing feature is the yellow, saddle-shaped marking on long red-and-black beaks. Saddle-billed Storks have a wide range in sub-Saharan Africa, but they are nowhere common. The species is managed by an AZA Population Management Plan and all of Toledo's hatches have been recommended breedings.

Copyright 2014 Toledo News Now. All rights reserved.

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