First pelican hatchling at Dresden Zoo
Animal news | 8 June 2022
For the first time in the history of Dresden Zoo, a great white pelican chick has hatched and is being successfully raised by its parents.
The baby hatched on the pelicans’ breeding platform 18 May, and has been growing well ever since. Baby pelicans are only slightly bigger than new‑born chickens when they hatch, but after that they rapidly put on weight. So they need sufficient quantities of food at regular intervals: the parents initially feed regurgitated fish mush directly into the young bird’s beak. When they reach 3 to 4 weeks of age, the youngsters begin to swallow small fish on their own.
Our breeding colony numbers 10 adult great white pelicans in total, split equally between females and males. This means we have five potential breeding pairs. Pelicans can live 40 to 60 years; here at the zoo, we already have four birds that are older than 35.
Great white pelicans are the only species of pelican whose offspring have grey plumage. The chicks of all other species, such as the Australian pelican, the American white pelican and the Dalmatian pelican, are white. Fledglings’ plumage changes colour at around the age of two.