Staff at Brent Lodge Animal Centre in Hanwell have been sitting on a little American secret recently in the form of turkey eggs. Neelum Bains found out what has been happening behind closed doors.
The eggs have been kept in incubation units in the animal centre’s holding room. To encourage the eggs to stay healthy and hatch, the incubator temperature has been kept at 37.5 degrees celcius and a relative humidity of between 40-60%.
Animal centre staff proudly announced the birth of three chicks (pictured above) on its Facebook page. They will keep the little turkeys inside until they are strong enough to go outside sometime in July.
The cute trio are Crollwitzer turkeys and add to the centre’s education programmes about domestic species kept on UK farms. The turkeys originate from America and, in fact, are the only North American birds in the park. They put on a beautiful display when their feathers are fully spread, a bit like a peacock. The animal centre, commonly known as the Bunny Park, has a bird conservation programme.
Home sweet home
With the help of an eager group of young people from the youth justice programme, the turkeys have had a brand new enclosure built just for them.
The young people were asked to design the enclosure, clear the area and help build the shed for the turkeys to sleep in. Some of the group also learned about the incubation process and husbandry of the chicks.
Volunteers from the youth justice programme have also been helping makeover the veterinary hospital and clearing the outdoor learning space.
‘Unique within the zoo world’
Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for transport, environment and leisure, said: “These cute little chicks are a great addition to the animal centre and I’m sure children and adults alike will enjoy watching them grow into full-size turkeys over the coming months.
“The work carried out by the young people at Brent Lodge is unique within the zoo world. They have often had difficult pasts, but this type of hands-on work with the zookeepers can make a huge difference to their lives. Their hard work not only improves the centre but also helps empower them to see what they can achieve when they are given inspirational mentoring.”