RZSS Edinburgh Zoo bird keepers are delighted to announce the arrival of three Darwin’s Rhea chicks. The trio can be seen running around their enclosure, alongside protective dad, Ramon.
Bird Section Team Leader, Colin Oulton, said, “We are really excited to see the three chicks doing so well and following dad around the enclosure. A Darwin’s Rhea can run at speeds of up to 37mph, so our keepers will soon be easily outpaced by the new arrivals.”
“With Rheas, it is the male that does all the egg incubation and rearing and, so far, dad Ramon has been doing a fantastic job. Rhea chicks grow very quickly and our chicks are already finding their stride. We are carefully monitoring them and can’t wait to see them become more confident and begin to take on their own personalities.”
Oulton concluded, “We have had great success breeding our Rheas in the past and to have chicks again this year is a great testament to the hard work the team have put in.”
Darwin's Rhea (Rhea pennata), also known as the Lesser Rhea, are found in the Altiplano and Patagonia in South America.
They are “ratites”, a group of flightless birds that includes the African Ostrich and the Australian Emu. The Darwin’s Rhea has relatively larger wings than other ratites, enabling it to run particularly well. It can reach speeds of up to 60 km/h (37 mph), enabling it to outrun predators.
Although the species has been recently reclassified by the IUCN to a status of “Least Concern”, the population is reportedly decreasing. Some of the major threats to this species include: hunting, egg-collecting, persecution by human populations, and habitat destruction from farming and conversion of land for cattle grazing.