Adding to the existing flock, two female Great White Pelicans gave birth to three babies at the Guwahati Zoo on Wednesday.
Usually the breeding season for Great White Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) is during August to early November. But this year due to delay in cleaning the water hyacinth, the breeding season shifted to December to February.
“The Great White Pelicans mate for life. For the first 20 days, the mother holds the babies to her chest and then slowly the babies take shelter under their mother’s wings,” Zoo Keeper Rajani Deka said.
There are five nests in total this season.
“The female lays an average of two eggs and the laying cycle covers a span of one year. In 2017, there were five new born pelicans,” Zoo DFO Tejas Mariswamy said.
“The Great White Pelicans mainly feed on fish. It is during early morning that the mother feeds her babies. Moreover, additive food or supplements will be provided,” Dr Bijoy Gogoi, FVO of Assam State Zoo said.
The Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden has the highest number of Great White Pelicans across all zoos in the country, informed Dr Bijoy Gogoi, FVO of State Zoo in Guwahati.
“The incubation period is one month and there are 31 pelicans in the flock currently. They have a special characteristic of ‘community fishing’,” Gogoi added.
In a month, the pond is refilled three to four times with 20 to 25 kilograms of fishes. In addition to that, each pelican is provided around 2 kilograms of fish every day.
“The new-born babies are not stable yet. We will open for public viewing after a week,” Mariswamy said.
“In an exchange with Mysore Zoo, four Great White Pelicans will be sent from Guwahati,” DFO Tejas Mariswamy added.