Baby Pelicans at Longleat

Longleat is one of the leading parks in the UK for breeding Pink Backed Pelicans. The first successful hatching of Pink Backed Pelicans in the UK was at Longleat back in 1996 and since then over 24 chicks, including this one, have been hand reared through to adulthood by safari staff.

Baby Pelican at Longleat

Mark Tye, Head of Section at Longleat said "I'm not quite sure what our magic ingredient is for the Pink Backed Pelicans but we obviously have been very fortunate with the 24 or so successful hatchings at Longleat. We maintain a uniform group of Pink Backed Pelicans, provide them with nest platforms set at around 1m above the water level to nest on and hand rear the chicks.

"I have to admit that we do put a lot of effort in as sadly the Pink Backed Pelican seems to be a genetically lazy bird. The adults are fine as long as you provide them with twigs for their nest and then, if they drop them in the water, give them more! They don't retrieve them, they don't find twigs for themselves; we have to do the work! Again, with the chicks, we hand rear them as mum doesn't seem to be overly bothered; they're not what I'd call natural parents!"

Baby Pelican at Longleat

Mark has hand reared the chick from the start giving it feeds every 3 hours for the first few weeks. Small trout fry were the order of the day for the early stages but now it's on a mixture of mackerel, trout and sprat.

When questioned on a name for the chick, Mark responded "We haven't sexed it yet and so it would be somewhat presumptuous to come up with a name. If I had a wager on it though, I'd guess it's a male due to both its size and remarkable greed; it can't wait until feed time! Females tend to be a bit more delicate and fussy about what they're eating!"