Sat, May 09, 2009
Sci-Tech > Science

Rare bird flies back from the dead

2009-05-09 07:35:36 GMT2009-05-09 15:35:36 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

A caretaker feeds a white-eared night heron at the Nanning Zoo in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region on Friday May 8, 2009. The bird broke its shell last Sunday after the egg was put in an incubator when it was abandoned by the parents. The bird is one of only a handful of the species on the planet. [Xinhua]

A caretaker feeds a white-eared night heron at the Nanning Zoo in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region on Friday May 8, 2009. [Xinhua]

The future of a rare species of bird that was once thought to be extinct got a huge lift this month when a chick was born at a zoo in south China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

Without feathers and barely able to walk, the 30-gram pink bird, a white-eared night-heron, is eating four small fish every one and a half hours and making great progress since it broke out of its shell on May 3 at Nanning Zoo, Nanning Evening News reported on Friday.

The bird was hatched in an incubator and is being fed artificially but is 100 per cent real - one of only a handful of the species on the planet.

The bird should be strong enough to walk in 20 days and ready to meet the public three months later.

It is the offspring of two herons that were found in 2003, along with a third that subsequently died, by local people, who sent them to the zoo. The parents laid two eggs last April, which they broke accidentally, and two more on April 4, that they abandoned in the nest. Those eggs were put in an incubator and one hatched.

White-eared night herons, or Gorsachius magnificus, are one of the most endangered species of birds in the world.

They were thought to be extinct until some were found in mountainous areas of Zhejiang, Fujian and Hainan provinces in the 1920s.

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