A newborn in a cloth bundle delivered by a flying stork is a familiar image. A reversal on this theme happened at the zoo recently when a pair of marabou storks delivered their own bundle – a stork chick! Ruthie and Irving are longtime residents of the savanna exhibit at Binder Park Zoo and, while they’ve built nests in the past, this was the first time in 21 years that they actually produced eggs. Together, the pair constructed a five-foot-wide nest with Irving sitting on stones as stand-in eggs for practice until Ruthie laid a clutch of three eggs. Zoo staff switched out the eggs with “decoy” eggs, and the real ones were transported to the Detroit Zoo for incubation.
“While marabou storks are a species of least concern, Irving and Ruthie are genetically valuable so we did want to take extra measures to protect the eggs. We also had a little concern about Irving and Ruthie’s lack of experience of parents,” said Kathryn Sippel, curator of collections at the zoo.
Of the three eggs, one was viable and a new chick was born on July 10. While the new family will be off exhibit for the rest of the zoo season, zoo guests can see Ruthie, Irving, and their chick in real-time through the ZooCam.