Thursday, May 23, 2013

Shame on Calgary Zoo! Calgary Zoo destroys penguin eggs!

 And this is their reason?
By Clara Ho, Calgary Herald May 22, 2013

Two gentoo penguin pairs successfully laid three eggs at the Calgary Zoo this month — but all three eggs will have to be destroyed.

The gentoos are part of a species survival plan, a captive breeding program for endangered species.
The plan comes with specific breeding recommendations outlined by American zoo officials, which the Calgary Zoo must follow.

For the gentoos, part of the criteria is that the animal must have a traceable genetic background, otherwise it is excluded from breeding.

But despite the zoo’s best efforts, a female cleared for breeding mated with a male that wasn’t due to his murky genetic history, and they produced two eggs.

Another pair of gentoos, both with untraceable genetic pasts, also mated and produced an egg.
“Even though we all want to have penguin chicks, we take it very seriously that they are in captivity for a reason — for education but also to maintain a healthy viable population in zoos in case something happens to the ones in the wild,” said curator Dr. Malu Celli.

Celli added there simply isn’t enough room to fill exhibits with animals “that have no value for the species survival plan.”

One of the eggs turned out to be infertile. If the second and third eggs, are found to be fertilized, Celli said keepers will halt their development.

Celli said the zoo plans to snuff out the eggs by coating the shell with oil, clogging the pores and blocking air flow.

There won’t be any chicks. But the egg-laying is still a good sign, signalling the birds are comfortable enough at the zoo to establish territories and feel safe enough to breed, she said.

Celli said the zoo “took a risk” by putting birds excluded from breeding with those that were recommended for breeding, to keep a large enough colony for the animals.

She said the pairings are hard to manage, and once formed, are hard to break.
“Unless I physically separate those two, they will be a pair for the rest of their lives,” she said, adding forced pairing is not something the zoo practises.

Non-valuable birds may still prove to be great foster parents for eggs from valuable birds, especially if they have laid eggs of their own and have mastered the art of incubation and egg transfer.

King penguin Asa laid the exhibit’s first egg in September. She later died of a respiratory infection.
Celli said the remaining penguins, which include rockhoppers and humboldts, are in good health and doing well.


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