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Australian zoo swaps in feather duster for absentee father, who abandoned chicks

File photo – John Nevinson on his property called “The Ranch” between Hay and Deniliquin with the bird “Plains-wanderer”. January 17, 1985. (Photo by Susan Debra Windmiller/Fairfax Media via Getty Images).

An Australian zoo has successfully doubled the population of an endangered bird by swapping in a feather duster for an absent father who abandoned his chicks just before hatching.

Male plains-wanderers, a small, ground-living birds coming from the south-east of Australia, the responsibility for the rearing of children, and stay with the chicks, while the female moves on to other pairs soon after laying her eggs.

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However, in this case, the four-month-old male, who was already struggling to tend to his first set of chicks, and stop sitting on the second set.

In his place, zoo keepers in Victoria placed a feather duster on the top of the eggs.

“They are cuddling up to the feather duster, pushing up into the springs,” zoo director Glen Holland told The Guardian.

The nine new boy bring the zoo plains-wanderers 20. It is only the second time that the zoo is able to successfully hatch plains-wanderer chicks since the beginning of the $500,000 breeding program more than a year ago.

“Breeding nine healthy chicks in such a short time is a huge accomplishment and we are all very excited about it,” the endangered and threatened species keeper, Yvette Pauligk told the newspaper.

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“Genetically, they are listed as the fourth most important species in the world, and the … main thing is in Australia in the evolutionary character and extinction risk,” she added. “To lose such an old, unique species would be completely devastating.”

The chicks born from two couples, were hatched within 24 hours of each other. Less than a week after the birth of the baby birds were zooming around their enclosure and eating locusts “the size of the beans,” Holland said.

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