Werribee Open Range Zoo in Victoria, Australia, has almost doubled its population of critically endangered plains-wanderer birds overnight.
In what is believed to be a world first, nine captive-bred chicks of the species hatched in just over 24 hours, after zookeepers helped the eggs to survive.
The chicks, which were born on March 19 and 20, hatched in a special brooder and were then transported into a tub, where they were kept warm with heat lamps and a feather duster, to simulate a parent’s feathers.
The chicks’ arrival marks only the second time the rare native bird has been bred in Victoria.
Yvette Pauligk, the zoo’s threatened species keeper, said: “We give the birds every opportunity to incubate and hatch their own eggs, and one pair was successful in doing this.
“However, the other male was not displaying such encouraging behaviour. So, we moved the eggs to an artificial incubator.
“The unique genetics of every single one of these birds is so precious. Breeding nine healthy chicks in such a short time is a huge achievement and one we are all very excited about.”
The hatchlings bring the zoo’s captive population to 20, while the number of mature plains-wanderers left in the wild is estimated to be less than 1,000.