After several years of searching and negotiating, the Cayman Turtle Farm has succeeded in acquiring two female scarlet ibis to pair with the attraction’s two male birds “Ziggy” and “Bobo.”
Inhabiting areas of the Caribbean and South America, scarlet ibis are waders and in the wild live in wetlands and marshy areas, in colonies which can consist of thousands of birds. They are native to the island of Trinidad and are that country’s national bird. They have also been introduced to a few islands in the French Caribbean, and to the British Virgin Islands.
“The ‘girls’ arrived mid-July and were released into the aviary after a mandatory two weeks semi-quarantine while our park vet monitored them for any issues,” said Cayman Turtle Farm terrestrial exhibits curator Geddes Hislop.
“While they were in the holding cage, our aviary staff took the opportunity to transition the birds to the aviary diet, which is different than the diet they had at Sea World San Diego. The staff also were training them to come when called and learn to hand feed on ibis pellets offered by our aviary visitors.”
Both females are 8-year-old proven breeders from Sea World’s breeding flock of scarlet ibis.
Ibis are protected under CITES Convention as Appendix II species, meaning they need permission from the country’s wildlife authority to be exported.
“We were allowed to acquire them because the birds were captive-bred and donated to the Turtle Farm on a zoo-to-zoo transfer as breeders,” explained Mr. Hislop.
“The ‘girls’ settled in surprisingly quickly and are now part of the aviary’s little ibis flock of five birds.”
Mr. Hislop said they are already approaching visitors but not actually taking food from their hands just yet.
Hopes are high that the new additions will help develop the Turtle Farm’s breeding program in coming years.
“We hope that next breeding season, which runs from April to June 2017, they will bond with our males and we will have ibis sitting on eggs in nests.”