We are pleased to report another successful hatching from our Great Blue Turacos (Corythaeola cristata). The female chick arrived on June 10 and marked the fourth baby turaco to be successfully raised at Nashville Zoo since we acquired the species in 2009. Only a handful of zoos breed turacos, so each hatching is certainly cause for celebration.
“Great blue turacos chicks have a low survivability rate, and while we have had previous breeding success, this time around we developed dietary and “shared care techniques” that we believed would better improve her chance of survival,” said Joe de Graauw, avian curator. “Shared care techniques involve having nests accessible to staff so we can monitor the chick’s health daily and supplement food or administer medications as needed. All the while, the chick remains with and can be raised by the parent.”
In order to provide shared care, the parents had to be moved from the walk-thru aviary to an off exhibit holding area.
“We were a little worried that the move off the exhibit would throw the parents a curve ball and they wouldn't breed -- Obviously that was not an issue.”
After the chick hatched, a team of two keepers would go through the task of collecting data and attending to the chick. One keeper would shield the sitting parent, scoop the chick from underneath them and pass it to a keeper who would then weigh, administer supplements or medications, photograph it and record pertinent data. Then, they would pass her back to the first keeper who would tuck her back under the parent.
“While the parents were a little irritated at us, they tolerated the daily routine and successfully raised the chick.”
The parents will remain off exhibit. Because we are one of only a handful of zoo’s to breed this species, it is important to be able to closely monitor both parents and chicks, and at this point that is better done in an off exhibit setting. We do hope to exhibit Great Blue Turacos again in the future. The chick will most likely be paired with a mate at another zoo for future breeding.