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NC zoo helps threatened birds

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August 2, 2002
by Rod Hackney

Helping endangered animals is the most important ongoing wildlife management effort in the zoological world. One of the most successful waterfowl breeding facilities in the world is located in a tiny North Carolina town.

In the small eastern North Carolina town of Scotland Neck, a British conservationist has established North America's premiere facility for the breeding of rare and endangered water fowl.

Mike Lubbock and his Sylvan Heights Water Fowl Center have been recognized for 16 world first captive of endangered water fowl species and 18 more species that have been hatched for the first time here in North America.

"We artificially incubate the eggs because there are so many birds in the pens it is difficult for them all to hatch and rear very successfully. We actually swap the eggs that are laid for wooden eggs. This actually fools the bird.

"As soon as we have a clutch we go to broodie chickens. Now this one here is designed for little pygmy goose eggs. They are surrogate moms, absolutely. The Broodie sits on them for 14 or 15 days. As soon as the 15 day period is up then they go to the incubators."

"As soon as we see the beak in the air space we move them to an incubator which we call a pre-hatcher and we are waiting for the egg to chip. He comes out of that egg. And you say how in the world did he fit in there?"

"He's only been out of that egg for two hours and he's already twice the size of the egg."

The work being done at Sylvan Heights Water Fowl Center is being funded in part by the North Carolina Zoological Society.