For the first time in 21 years, a pair of marabou storks, Ruthie and Irving, delivered a new stork chick at the Binder Park Zoo.
Ruthie laid three eggs and afterward zoo staff switched out the eggs with “decoy” eggs, and the real ones were transported to the Detroit Zoo for incubation.
“While marabou storks are a species of least concern, Irving and Ruthie are genetically valuable, so we did want to take extra measures to protect the eggs,” Kathryn Sippel, curator of collections at the zoo, said. “We also had a little concern about Irving and Ruthie’s lack of experience as parents so we moved the nest to a secure location at our vet hospital to monitor them by camera. As the incubation period neared completion, the eggs were returned to the nest with the storks seemingly none the wiser. Of the three eggs, only one was viable and a healthy chick hatched on July 10. The sex of the chick won’t be known until DNA testing can be done. It’s a mystery why it took them so long to make a family. Exciting for sure, but definitely a mystery.”
Binder Park Zoo is the only accredited zoo in Michigan holding marabou storks and one of only 12 zoos with storks of both genders. Marabou stork birds are found in Africa, from the Sahara Desert to South Africa.