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Wednesday, 12 August 2020 14:07

Lusty eaters - no surprise Knowsley Safari's white storks growing well!

Stork Chick mainTake a look at the ravenous eating of these white stork chicks in the video at the end of this article! Born at Knowsley Safari Park on Merseyside in the same May week as the first wild stork chicks to hatch in the UK in 600 years, the five chicks are the offspring of two different sets of parents at Knowsley Safari, which cares for and breeds birds in partnership with ornithology experts Gauntlet Birds of Prey.

The wild storks meanwhile hatched in mid May at the Knepp Estate in West Sussex, the first time since 606 years that storks have hatched in the wild in Britain. The Knepp Estate has dedicated its many acres to a rewilding project, including being part of the UK's White Stork Project.

Graham Bessant, owner and founder of Gauntlet who work with Knowsley Safari said: “We’re currently caring for them until they can safely fend for themselves, at which point they will settle into their home at Knowsley Safari in the company of their 14-strong white stork family.  During these uncertain times of coronavirus and the lockdown, it has been a delight to see these remarkable birds continue to recover from centuries of hunting and a loss of habitat, and breed successsfuly both in the wild and within Knowsley Safari’s incredible environment.

“All five storks are now fully grown, gaining muscle and strength daily and doing very well indeed.  All but one have taken to the sky with the fifth preparing to take the plunge any day now! They’re currently undergoing their basic training at Gauntlet’s base in Knutsford, learning their call signs so that they can return home safely whenever they spread their wings.  If all goes well the first storks will be joining their Knowsley Safari family in September."

The chicks have daily weigh-ins before and after their feeds, which helps monitor the species’ extreme growth process - on average, each chick gains a staggering 3.5oz in weight per day.  Feasting on a diet of chicken, mice, quail and fish like sprat, each stork will weigh approximately 6-7.5 lbs and measure 100-115 cm high when fully matured – as high as an average five year-old child!

Take a look at the video below and you can see why!