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A hatching 36 years in the making: hello little red-crested turaco chick!

Posted by Meghan Sawyer and Elizabeth Bacher, Communications

Red-crested turaco chick at four weeks. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

As 2020 draws to a close, Woodland Park Zoo is celebrating an eggstrordinary hatching more than three decades in the making: say hello to the zoo’s red-crested turaco chick, hatched November 16—the first of its species to hatch at the zoo since 1984!

The brooder temperature is carefully monitored for the red-crested turaco chick—shown shortly after hatching—to make sure it is comfortable and healthy. Photo: Stephanie Miller/Woodland Park Zoo

Months ago, the zoo’s female red-crested turaco laid a couple of eggs. In the past, previous fertile eggs had failed to develop, so this time around our experienced animal care staff decided to incubate the eggs behind-the-scenes and hand-rear any chicks. Hand-rearing a requires precisely timed feedings throughout the day and into the evening, and careful monitoring of brooder temperatures to make sure any chicks are comfortable and healthy. Two chicks initially hatched. One didn’t survive, but the other—which was recently determined to be a female—is thriving on a diet of banana, apple, papaya, and cooked sweet potato mixed with a specially formulated nutritionally complete pelleted food formula for birds.

Right now, this female chick's feathers are still growing in, but soon she will have a bright crimson-colored crest on her head, just like her parents. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

As a young hatchling, this chick was quite the fluffball, but now she’s getting bigger and already starting to grow colorful feathers on her body. Soon, her head will be bright and colorful too, just like her parents. At 6 weeks old now, the growing chick currently weighs around 6 ounces. Adults of this species weigh a little over half of a pound, and are about 18 inches long. The chick’s personality is only just starting to show and keepers say she is very observant and curious. 

Proud parents! the mother of the red-crested turaco chick is in the foreground while you can see the bright red wing patches of the father behind her. Photo: Stephanie Miller/Woodland Park Zoo

There are around two dozen different species of turacos—all of them native to Africa. Red-crested turacos--so named for the crimson-colored crest feathers on top of their heads—are primarily found in Angola, where they spend most of their lives in the canopy, hopping, jumping and gliding from treetop to treetop and feeding on fruit. While not listed as endangered, it is believed that their wild populations may be in decline due to habitat destruction and collection for the pet trade.

Photo: Stephanie Miller/Woodland Park Zoo

At the zoo, our red-crested turacos live at the Conservation Aviary. With current health and safety protocols in place, this area is not currently open for visitors—so for now, we hope you enjoy seeing these pictures until the time comes when you can see them in person. You might, though, still be able to hear these vocal birds before you can see them. They are known for their loud calls that sound a bit like a monkey! 

Photo: Stephanie Miller/Woodland Park Zoo

Despite certain high-touch and indoor areas being closed, Woodland Park Zoo is open with social distancing and contact-tracing protocols in place.Go to to purchase timed-entry admission tickets and to learn about changes to help keep zoo visitors, animals and staff safe and healthy. For additional ways to support your zoo, consider a membership or contribute to the Relief Fund at The zoo appreciates the community support!