Cassowary Chicks Hatch at the Virginia Zoo

Photo: Alex Zelazo-Kessler/Virginia Zoo

Photo: Alex Zelazo-Kessler/Virginia Zoo

The Virginia Zoo in Norfolk welcomed three Southern cassowary chicks on Friday, June 20, 2014. This is the second clutch for parents Boris and Earline, who had a single male chick, Hallager, in June 2013.

Boris, shown below with his new offspring, incubated the eggs and is raising the chicks; after laying the eggs, female cassowaries do not play a role in rearing their young. “He’s a great dad,” said Alexandra Zelazo-Kessler, the Virginia Zoo’s lead bird zookeeper. “He seems a little calmer around keepers this time around, but still protective.”

The chicks will be named after their sex is determined.

Photo: Alex Zelazo-Kessler/Virginia Zoo

Photo: Alex Zelazo-Kessler/Virginia Zoo

Cassowaries are ratites, a group of flightless birds that also includes ostrich, emu, kiwi, and rhea. They are native to the tropical forests of New Guinea, northeastern Australia, and nearby islands. Cassowaries mainly eat fruit, though they are omnivorous and also eat various plant shoots, seeds, insects, and small reptiles and mammals. The Southern or double-wattled cassowary is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with habitat loss and hunting among the most significant threats.