Moscow Zoo boasts black stork chicks

Moscow Zoo boasts black stork chicks
Captive black storks breed rarely. In the future, their chicks are to be transferred to the largest Russian Zoos.

Two black stork chicks hatched in Moscow Zoo. Moscow Zoo takes part in compiling the European Studbook along with other European Zoos, it registers all the information about changes in the number of this species. In the future, rare birds will be transferred to the largest Russian zoos. So, chicks hatched within previous years, were transferred to Rostov-On-don, Stavropol and Chita.

"We are happy to have red-listed black stork chicks hatched, it is really a significant event for our Zoo. Unlike undemanding white storks, these birds are secretive and unsociable. In the wild, they usually build their nests in secluded forest thickets, away from human settlements. However, Moscow Zoo ornithologists managed to create comfortable conditions for this species and choose the right diet", said Svetlana Akulova, General Director of the Moscow Zoo.

Couple of black storks were added to Zoo's collection in 2005. A male named Leo was caught in the wild, and his partner, female Rosa, came here from the Yekaterinburg Zoo. This year, the birds turned 14. In the wild, black storks' lifespan is about 18 years. In captivity, these birds live twice longer.

Rosa and Leo have always been sharing the same cage. However, the couple had their first offspring only nine years after their transfer to the Zoo. Since 2014, it is the 5th time the couple breeds chicks.

"Chicks, still covered with down, weigh some 1,5 kg. In the end of summer, chicks will be transferred to the display at the House of Birds in the old Zoo part. Now they need to grow up a little and get stronger," Svetlana Akulova added.

In the wild, black storks live in forests and mountains. Usually, they build their nests in the crowns of tall trees or on rock ledges. Black storks reluctantly change their nesting place. Kept for several years, it passes to the next generation. Besides, black storks are monogamous. Once they choose their partners, they keep faithful to them for the rest of their life.

Black stork is the same size as its white relative. Its body is about one meter long, with weight about 3 kg, and the wingspan reaching two meters.

Its body is covered with metalescent black feathers. Belly and lower wings are white. The legs, skin around its eyes and the beak are red. Storks make loud cries when flying, and in the mating season they make hissing sounds. Black stork chicks usually make sounds that resemble grasshopper chirping of frog croaking.

In Russia, the number of black storks decreases. Habitat of suitable nesting places has been reduced, and the total number of species does not exceed 500 couples. This species is red-listed in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Moscow Zoo is currently extending its collection, now comprising over 1,000 species.  In 2017, it got its first aardvark and three couples of gentoo penguins.  In 2018, it received two Amur tigers, an Amur leopard, crested curassows and a trumpeter. This year, the arrival of two pandas from China was one of the most significant events for the Moscow Zoo. 

In 2019, the Moscow Zoo turns 155.  Themed concerts, performances, quests, master classes and tours will be held on its grounds to celebrate the anniversary.