Paradise Wildlife Park

Europe's first rare Black Hornbill Chicks Born for two years!

Posted: 20th April, 2022

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 two years! 

Black hornbills are a species of hornbill native to Asia 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 twenty-four 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. 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. Thanks to the cameras the zookeeping 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, from nest box building to using a misting system to replicate a humid climate as Black hornbills will naturally nest after the wet season. The bird team is happy with the progress and they will continue to monitor the chicks. 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.

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