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Liberec zoo is first in Europe to raise Bonelli’s eagle

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Liberec, North Bohemia, April 26 (CTK) – The Liberec zoo is the first European zoo to successfully breed the Bonelli’s eagle, a very endangered bird of prey, after ten years of efforts, its spokeswoman Barbara Tesarova told CTK on Thursday.

“The breeding of the Bonelli’s eagle in captivity is very demanding. At present, only three European zoos keep the species, but only the Liberec zoo can pride in having raised the offspring,” Tesarova said.

The zoo has kept the adult eagles since 2008, but it is only now that two young gradually hatched on Sunday and Wednesday. Both have been placed in a special incubator, with the attendants teaching them to accept food.

“This is a frequent practice in zoological gardens. We take fertilised eggs away from birds of prey, mainly those who have no parental experience, and place them in an incubator in order to increase the chance of successful raising of the young,” expert Jan Hanel said.

Genetic tests will decide on further steps to take.

“If the young are males, we will unite them with step parents of another bird species, probably white-headed eagles that have rich experience with raising offspring, unlike the real parents, Bonelli’s eagles,” Hanel said.

If the young are females, the attendants will raise them by themselves.

“This is one of the measures to enable an effective breeding of birds, not only predators. Raised artificially by humans, the young birds take humans for their future partner. After they grow adult, this can facilitate the artificial insemination [of females],” Hanel said.

Tesarova said the Liberec zoo would like to join the Life Bonelli project of supporting the shrinking Spanish and French population of the Bonelli’s eagle.

“The Liberec zoo may mainly contribute by raising young eagles and releasing them in wild nature in the given region,” she said.

The Bonelli eagle inhabits less forested areas of Europe, mainly in the Mediterranean. It is up to 74 cm long, with the wingspan of 1.5 metres. It nests on rocks and sometimes also in trees. The mother usually lays two eggs. The young hatch in about 40 days and afterwards continue to be fed by the parents for another two months. They stay with the parents until the next spring. They grow adult at the age of four to five.

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