For the first time, the Chattbir zoo has successfully reared seven golden pheasants. While five of them are still in the care of the vets at the zoo hospital, two have been released in an enclosure for public display.
The zoo had a pair of the exotic bird, which is a native of China. “The pair laid eggs off and on, and the offspring never survived,” said zoo director Manish Kumar.
The vets then made certain nutritional changes in the diet of the birds after which regular egg-laying started in 2013. But hatching and survival of the chicks remained a problem.
This time, the chicks were immediately removed to the zoo hospital after hatching, and were kept in a wooden box with controlled light and heat.
“The young ones of golden pheasants do not need mother’s care. It is in their nature that mothers do not take care of them as they are born with open eyes and developed wings,” said Dr M P Singh, a zoo vet who is a poultry pathologist.
The feed of the chicks was improved and these were kept under observation for three months. The food included boiled poultry eggs, vegetables and bird feed.
Now, the chicks are four months old and the males have started developing the colour which makes them attractive. “Two of the seven chicks have started showing the features of male pheasants,” said Dr Singh.
Animal manager of the zoo Harpal Singh said, “These birds are exotic and hence are very profitable when we plan animal exchange with other zoos. They have high sale value. A fully grown bird is sold for Rs 50,000 or even more.”