New Cassowary arrivals at Featherdale
Some of Featherdale's newest arrivals are three young Cassowary Chicks. Classified as a threatened species in Australia, the young chicks are thriving and already learning to forage for food in their enclosure.
Check out one of the chicks hatching!
This is the fifth consecutive year that Featherdale has successfully bred Southern Cassowaries or Casuarius casuarius. Due to their solitary lifestyle and aggressive nature, it is not easy to breed the large bird in captivity. When breeding season commences in late June/early July, Featherdale’s keepers assist by separating the male from the female each afternoon via visual barriers. The pair is then reintroduced each morning over a few weeks until the female has laid her clutch of eggs. The female is then relocated to another enclosure and Papa Cassowary is left to incubate the eggs for the next 8-9 weeks.
The heaviest of all Australian birds, the Southern Cassowary is found in the tropical rainforests of North-east Queensland. Habitat depletion, road fatalities, disease and the predation of eggs by feral animals, have all assisted in significantly reducing the bird’s range and population. It is listed by the IUCN as a vulnerable species with only a few thousand thought to be left in the wild. While striking an imposing figure, the Cassowary is wary of humans and will strike out with their long dagger like toe if they feel threatened. The casque or tall helmet on the Cassowary’s head is made of the same material as our fingernails, rendering it impractical as a weapon.
Featherdale is one of the only zoos in NSW which breeds the Southern Cassowary. Once chicks are old enough, they are moved onto other wildlife parks and zoos as part of a managed captive breeding programme. Featherdale plays a vital role in maintaining a viable captive population which could potentially become part of a release programme back into the wild. For now, captive populations assist conservation efforts through research and education.
Featherdale Wildlife Park is open everyday 9am to 5pm. For more information, visit www.featherdale.com.au or phone 02 9622 1644. Featherdale is located midway between Sydney and the Blue Mountains at 217 Kildare Road, Doonside.