Join our zoo community

Personal speculation of the AZA Ciconiiformes/Phoenicopteriformes TAG

Discussion in 'North America - General' started by Sarus Crane, 9 Feb 2022.

  1. Sarus Crane

    Sarus Crane Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Apr 2017
    Posts:
    926
    Location:
    USA
    Over time, I've noticed that not much seems to have changed in AZA's Ciconiiformes/Phoenicopteriformes TAG. It's good that we have a number of species within it, but I think it would be good to focus on some different species for the future. I've noticed that other TAGS are phasing out species that are not reproductively successful long term or are classified as a Least Concern species. My ideas and suggestions for the TAG's 10-30 year future are outlined here:

    Ciconiidae: Storks
    -Focus on learning best practices for breeding Saddlebilled Storks successfully in captivity.
    -Create awareness and ex-situ support for the Greater Adjutant through its Asian proxy species, the Marabou Stork.
    -Get more institutions interested in holding Lesser Adjutant & Milky Storks. These can go hand in hand with Action Indonesia species such as Banteng, Anoa, Babirusa and Sumatran Tigers. Once San Diego's Milky's start being really successful they can send birds to other facilities in the US to start new flocks.
    -Try to bolster the Painted Stork population. Perhaps move all individuals to Miami's Wings of Asia aviary? If not that then obtain more from south Asian/Malaysian zoos (Zoo Negara, Delhi etc...)
    -If possible, start an SSP for Oriental Storks. These can replace White Storks in northern climates since they are suited for the colder temperatures and can be featured in north Asian exhibits.
    -Start an SSP for Asian Openbills. The fact that they are a good indicator species of cohabitation and adaptibility to live nearby humans plus expanding their range into China make them a worthy species to help guests show that large bird species can flourish alongside people.


    Threskiornithidae: Ibises & Spoonbils
    -If Cambodia allows it try to start SSP captive populations for Giant & White Naped Ibises. These species can be integrated into Indo-China exhibits and highlight the need for wetland conservation in Cambodia.
    -Try to obtain Malagasy Sacred Ibises to largely replace the Sacred Ibis like in the EAZA.
    -Focus on the ex-situ conservation of South American ibis species.
    -Roseate Spoonbills are great, and colorful, but cut back on the program a little and make room for a new species.... Yellow-Billed or Royal perhaps???


    Ardeidae: Herons
    -Replace the Javan Pond Heron with the endangered Malagasy Pond Heron.
    -Start a Great Billed Heron SSP and use it to highlight the importance of conservation for its proxy species in Bhutan, the Imperial Heron.
    -Use rehabilitated/non releasable Reddish Egrets in zoos to showcase them as an umbrella species and their unique habitats of beaches and estuaries to advocate for conservation of smaller species like sandpipers and plovers that could be housed with them.


    Phoenicopteridae: Flamingos
    -Continue with the Andean Highland Flamingo SAFE program. Possibly down the road AZA could acquire some Andean & Puna's for the program but should be limited to zoo's with similar mountainous & weather/environmental conditions such as Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Denver Zoo, Hogle Zoo etc...
    -Create more opportunities in zoos for guests to have flamingo feeding encounters to ingnite passion for their conservation.
     
    Last edited: 9 Feb 2022
    Austin the Sengi likes this.
  2. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    11 Feb 2008
    Posts:
    1,719
    Location:
    Czech republic
    TAGs can work only with capacities that are currently available. I don´t think this TAG has addition of new species on its agenda. Downsizing is their future, unfortunately. Past experiences has shown high injury and mortality rate of long-legged birds placed with ungulates in mixed zoo exhibits and this practice is getting less common. Additionally, push away from pinioning of zoo birds further diminishes available space within zoological institution in Europe and I guess also in the US. So, forget new programs.

    It also makes little sense to start or strengten those programs that already run successfuly in EAZA. AZA should focun on species that are doing weak or are absent in Europe (and vice versa).

    Few comments to some species you mentioned:
    - openbills are problematic during chick rearing, they need intensive keeper support at that time and are thus labour-intensive, not worth it compared to other storks
    - I don´t understand the existence of White storks in AZA at all, they are common here in Europe, unless they are important for some current themed exhibits?
    - AZA has enough capacity to keep all 6 extant flamingo species in good numbers so I support any (legal and ethic) import of wild Andeans and James flamingos, however all must go into only 1 institution that has realistic chance of breeding them
    - flamingo feeding encounters require hand-reared flamingos, I find hand-rearing chicks (if there is no pressing need) for unethical, so I personally would be glad if this was abandoned
     
    nczoofan and Sarus Crane like this.
  3. Sarus Crane

    Sarus Crane Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Apr 2017
    Posts:
    926
    Location:
    USA
    Both species of Openbill or only Asian? Do chicks not get fed enough by their parents or need escargo constantly?

    What would be the most likely scenario for importing Andeans & James' and which facilitity in your opinion do you think would be best equipped for a successful program with them in AZA?

    Lastly, which species' do you see the AZA downgrading?
     
  4. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    19 Dec 2007
    Posts:
    2,789
    Location:
    Everywhere at once
    There is lots of opportunity to work on endangered species programs in wading birds. Strangely, it looks like Western zoos interest in breeding threatened species did not touch this group - other than waldrapp.

    Madagascar sacred ibises and Madagascar pond herons are both endangered. Walsrode bird park imported them about 20 years ago and breeds them, but they hardly spread to other zoos. Black-faced spoonbills were also imported to Walsrode and died out. Oriental white storks struggle to attract holders. Asian woolly-necked stork is yet another species which became threatened and is present in Western zoos, but zoo community does not think much about starting a regular breeding program. Greater an lesser adjutant storks are still suburban scavengers in parts of Asia and could be obtained as threatened replacements of marabou storks.
     
    Sarus Crane likes this.
  5. Sarus Crane

    Sarus Crane Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Apr 2017
    Posts:
    926
    Location:
    USA
    EXACTLY! Get with the program AZA!!!
     
  6. ThylacineAlive

    ThylacineAlive Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    20 Oct 2012
    Posts:
    10,429
    Location:
    Connecticut, U.S.A.
    Considering the European zoos that already have Andean and James's Flamingos and have had breeding success in the past have been unsuccessful in trying to import more animals, I highly doubt American zoos would have better luck nor would they waste the time trying when they are already running four highly successful programs.

    To my knowledge, there are no Asian Openbills in the US and very few African Openbills left in the AZA, if any. I believe Tampa has sent most if not all of theirs away, some to Hemker of all places.

    Lesser Adjutant I don't think has a future in US zoos. Bronx has done great with them but nobody is interested in keeping them and the last few chicks the zoo produced all went to Europe. Sadly large Asian storks are not as in-demand as African storks, though they, too, will be declining now that the practice of mixing these birds with hoofstock is slowly disappearing. I expect we won't be seeing many Marabous in the future except when mixed with vultures.

    Saddle-Billed Storks need to be flighted in order to reproduced in captivity, and most zoos don't have the facilities for this. The ones that do are struggling to place chicks and are in turn cutting back on breeding them.

    European White Stork and Abdim's Stork both seem to have successful programs which hopefully stay that way, though as with Marabou I wouldn't be surprised if the former declines as zoos stop wanting to mix them with hoofstock. I'm not entirely sure what the situation is with Yellow-Billed Stork but they seem to be doing alright as well with a number of zoos dedicated to them.

    The plan for Milky Stork I believe is just as you said, get the birds at San Diego to start breeding and then spread out offspring. There is institutional interest in this species beyond just the San Diegos, which is more than can be said for most Asian storks! The decision to phase-out Painted Stork has been made entirely in order to free-up the limited space available for a growing Milky population. Despite this, Bronx and I think Miami are holding onto Painted for the time-being (though I'm not sure if either is actively breeding them?).

    Javan Pond-Heron is another species being kept alive by Bronx and Miami. Miami used to have tons, but due to lack of other zoos' interest in taking in offspring they have reduced their numbers. Tampa keeps the species still but I've not heard anything good about Tampa's new bird management team and I suspect we will see their bird go the way of their openbills unless the TAG makes a push for them (unlikely).

    I think Boat-Billed Heron and Cattle Egret are the only other Ardeidae being actively bred at AZA zoos for the most part. There are rescued natives around and Bronx breeds Black-Crowned Night-Heron as well but that's about it.

    Right now, the only group here that's really thriving in the AZA is Threskiornithidae. These spaces are obviously dominated by Scarlet Ibis and Roseate Spoonbill but a fair number of other species are still being managed. African Spoonbill, Northern Bald Ibis, Southern Bald Ibis, African Sacred Ibis, and Hadada Ibis are all present in AZA zoos to an extent and I think their populations are going well respectively. While breeding has struggled, zoos seem committed to Madagascar Crested Ibis still, with there having been some imports of new blood from Europe in recent years. While it may not seem like it with only a few holders and a few pairs around, the Black-Faced Ibis program has grown slowly but surely. Puna Ibis have also seen some expansion recently with a couple new holders coming on-board and a very successful flock thriving at Sedgwick.

    While it would be great to see more of all of these animals in US zoos, and more endangered programs being pick up, we need to be realistic about available species and interest. If we can at least maintain what it is we have now that's at least salvageable, I'll be happy. I mean, 4 flamingo, 6 stork, 2-3 heron/egret, 2 spoonbill, and 6-8 ibis programs is really not bad going.

    Now with all of that said, if you keep an eye on the right related social media pages, you might find that a future in the AZA for the endangered Madagascar birds may well be far from implausible ;)

    ~Thylo
     
  7. Dhole dude

    Dhole dude Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3 Jul 2020
    Posts:
    1,169
    Location:
    Bloomington, Minnesota
    Hemker has Openbills now!!??
     
  8. ThylacineAlive

    ThylacineAlive Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    20 Oct 2012
    Posts:
    10,429
    Location:
    Connecticut, U.S.A.
    They at least did as of last summer.

    ~Thylo
     
  9. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    23 Feb 2015
    Posts:
    3,037
    Location:
    United States
    White Storks are more cold tolerant than the tropical African and Asian species, and are usually mixed with other animals like hoofstock and raptors.

    Most Roseate Spoonbills are in American or Neotropical exhibits, so swapping them out with Australasian species wouldn't make sense. Your suggestions are common in the wild anyway?

    Also of note, Hamerkop and pelicans are part of this TAG as well. There is a sizable number of Hamerkop and three pelican programs.

    Who is breeding Cattle Egrets and why?
     
  10. Dhole dude

    Dhole dude Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3 Jul 2020
    Posts:
    1,169
    Location:
    Bloomington, Minnesota
    Didn't see any in September, but the signage their aviaries is pretty terrible, so there is a possibility that I just missed them.
     
  11. ThylacineAlive

    ThylacineAlive Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    20 Oct 2012
    Posts:
    10,429
    Location:
    Connecticut, U.S.A.
    Three pelican programs plus two species that are pretty readily available as wild rescues, especially Brown.

    TBH I have no idea if anyone is breeding Cattle Egrets. I assumed someone must be as they do pop-up as an accessory species in tropical aviaries and, at least at Cheyenne Mountain, in mixed hoofstock yards.

    ~Thylo
     
  12. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    17 Sep 2017
    Posts:
    8,443
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Judging by the massive numbers of Cattle Egrets in Simmons Aviary I can say with near certainty that Omaha is breeding Cattle Egrets.
     
  13. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    11 Feb 2008
    Posts:
    1,719
    Location:
    Czech republic
    African. Both in Prague and Dvur, parents are unable to feed their chicks enough without support of keepers (who climb nests and feed chicks several times a day, or they pull them out and hand-rear them all the way).

    I have no idea if there is any chance to get export licence - no South American country allows catch and export of Chileans for several decades let alone those 2 high altitude species. However Americans have much more familiar ties there than Europe could ever. A glimmer of hope, relatively recently Bolivia allowed harvest of incubated flamingo eggs to their zoo in La Paz for their own exhibit, this might become precedens maybe?
     
    Sarus Crane likes this.
  14. Sarus Crane

    Sarus Crane Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Apr 2017
    Posts:
    926
    Location:
    USA
    As of like a decade ago I remember that Bright's Zoo in Limestone, Tennessee imported a flock from somewhere in South America. Someone on here could fill in the details as I can't remember where I saw it originally.
     
  15. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    19 Dec 2007
    Posts:
    2,789
    Location:
    Everywhere at once
    European zoos in the last decade started trend of building very big walkthru aviaries for large flighted birds like storks, pelicans and vultures. They proven very popular, especially in climate where there is little risk of snow collapsing the nets. I wonder when this trend will reach Americas?
     
    Sarus Crane likes this.
  16. Sarus Crane

    Sarus Crane Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Apr 2017
    Posts:
    926
    Location:
    USA
    It sure would be great! If zoos want to create great exhibits while holding some of the bigger birds they could do a huge swamp walk through Bushbuck/Sitatunga/Lechwe enclosure/aviary with Saddle-Billed Storks, Yellow-Billed Storks various ibises and African Spoonbills and perhaps even Shoebills if they become populous in AZA ever again. Walk through scavenging aviaries with Marabou and vultures would be fantastic as well like the St. Augustine Alligator Farm's exhibit.
     
  17. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    17 Sep 2017
    Posts:
    8,443
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    This does appear to be in the very early stages of catching on in the US, I think.
     
    Sarus Crane likes this.
  18. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    19 Dec 2007
    Posts:
    2,789
    Location:
    Everywhere at once
    Something similar exists in Antwerpen for African buffalo and wading and non-wading birds.

    A theoretical aviary with sitatungas and birds could be actually fully walkthru, because sitatunga are rather small and pose little risk for visitors. They would probably themselves choose to keep away from visitors.
     
    Austin the Sengi and Sarus Crane like this.
  19. Sarus Crane

    Sarus Crane Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Apr 2017
    Posts:
    926
    Location:
    USA
    I don't know why they did, but Mesker Park zoo in Indiana had a big walkthrough exhibit with Sitatunga and White Storks. The zoo is a big contributor to the Sitatunga SSP so maybe they closed it so the shy Sitatunga would have better breeding results?
     
  20. PossumRoach

    PossumRoach Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Feb 2018
    Posts:
    1,854
    Location:
    Turkey, AKA: NOT Sneed's Feed and Seed
    While their small or nonexixting populations in the Western world is sad, I am confident that these species are safe in Japan. Oriental storks are native to Japan and there are 13 holders of them along with local efforts to save the species. There are 8 holders of black-faced spoonbill including Saitama children's zoo, Nogeyama, and Tama.