The chick hatched on 18 February and has just started to explore its rainforest home at Perth Zoo under the watchful eye of its father, ‘Marty’.
Perth Zoo Keeper, Matt Ricci, said: “This is a really exciting new addition for Perth Zoo. Cassowaries are one of the largest birds in the world and often referred to as the dinosaur bird of Australia.”
“Modern birds descended from dinosaurs and cassowaries belong to one of the most ancient lineages of living birds. They’re literally living dinosaurs,” said Matt.
“Their prehistoric features like their massive feet, the casque on top of their head and even their breeding behaviour is thought to be similar to some dinosaur species which once roamed the earth.”
“Zoo visitors can make their own comparisons during the school holidays as we’ve also got 19 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs roaring throughout the Zoo for the Zoorassic Park at Perth Zoo exhibition,” said Matt.
“Although there are many similarities between the cassowary and dinosaurs, we don’t want extinction to be one of them.”
Sadly the Southern Cassowary has been badly affected by habitat destruction and cyclones with as few as 2000 mature individuals left in their natural rainforest habitat in northern Queensland.
“The breeding success here at Perth Zoo provides valuable additions to the regional breeding program which helps raise awareness of the plight of these magnificent birds in the wild and helps put them one step further away from extinction,” said Matt.
Perth Zoo also helps safeguard Southern Cassowaries in the wild by supporting the Save the Cassowary campaign.
- The wedge-shaped casque on their head protects cassowaries from low branches and vines when moving through the forest.
- An adult can weigh up to 75kg, grow up to 2m tall and run up to 50kph.
- There are fewer than 2,000 southern cassowaries left in the wet tropics of Australia.
- Raising cassowary is done exclusively by the adult males with the females having no involvement once laying the eggs.
- The chick will develop its sleek black feathers and brilliant blue neck and head colouring at 2-4 years of age.
- The sex of the chick won’t be known for a few months until DNA testing is done.