Colorful birds named “painted,” include a bunting, parakeet, finch, tiger-parrot, buttonquail, and the tallest one in the group – the Painted Stork.
By Rex Graham
Hundreds of Painted Storks nest communally across India and Sri Lanka, with the most famous colony since 1960 in the trees of the 85-hectare (210 acre) Delhi Zoo. The three-month Monsoon triggers the reproduction of fish in rivers and wetlands, and Painted Storks begin nesting at the zoo about a month after the rains begin.
About 500 Painted Storks nest on 4 islands in 2 large ponds at the zoo, along with cormorants, egrets, herons, ibises and other birds. (The storks begin to leave in March and April.) Interestingly, some Painted Storks are housed in zoo enclosures.
The huge assembly of zoo storks is an indication they have simply run out of nesting sites in the region around Delhi. The only good trees are at the zoo.
Painted Storks Zoo Visitor
The large rookery led University of Delhi Biology Professor Abdul Jarmil Uril to suggest that large, undisturbed sections of zoo land should be managed as bird refuges.
It’s not such a crazy idea. Many zoos are evolving away from confinement to spacious areas with natural-looking environments. Zoos are centers for captive breeding of endangered or rare birds and other animals, but Uril thinks they can assume a larger role in the preservation natural habitats.
Public dislike of hard confinement has led many zoos to close elephant exhibits. Others don’t replacing elephants that die. They simply need to be in large social group in larger areas than zoos can offer. Only one-third of the 224 zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums have elephants. The number is declining.
PETA: No Zoos
The animal-rights organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) flat-out opposes all zoos, arguing that they contribute to the demise of the Giant Panda and other endangered animal species.
“It is nearly impossible to release captive-bred animals into the wild,” says a PETA position statement. “Ultimately, we will only save endangered species if we save their habitats and combat the reasons why people kill them – not by breeding a few in captivity.”