Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo is one of the world’s top zoos, and the UK’s number one wildlife attraction. It has over 15,000 animals, in 125 acres of award-winning zoological gardens. Around 1.9 million people visit the zoo every year.

 The zoo is also a registered conservation and education charity that supports over 80 projects in 30 countries around the world. This includes Mauritius where, for a number of years now, the zoo has been assisting in the conservation of some of the island’s critically endangered bird species.

To enable more success in this important work Chester Zoo and Brinsea Products have entered into a new era of collaboration, strengthening the already close links between the two organisations. Brinsea values the breeding expertise and experience that Chester zoo has with a wide range of Brinsea machines and this helps to inform Brinsea’s development of new products and its support to customers with specific technical breeding queries.

Team Manager of Parrots and Penguins, Andy Woolham, approached Brinsea to explore the possibility of updating ageing incubation equipment sent by the zoo to Mauritius some years ago. Andy said, ‘We really did need to update the incubation equipment in Mauritius. We already had Brinsea Polyhatch, Multihatch and Octagon 20DX incubators, but they were getting old, and were no longer as reliable as we would have liked, probably not surprising as it is nearly 11 years since we sent them out.

I have used Brinsea equipment for many years now, and have never been let down by their equipment or their personnel, so I wanted to upgrade what was there for newer models. After some discussion with Brinsea we came to an agreement on sending new incubators, brooders, and peripheral equipment out. Brinsea made this easier by offering to look after the shipping for us – they export incubators all over the world – we don’t!'

After organising the shipping of the new equipment it all arrived safely, much to the delight of Chester Zoo’s Victoria Kaldis, who is currently stationed there to run the conservation project. This equipment is already paying dividends. Two critically endangered Mauritian Pink Pigeons have successfully hatched in one of the Octagon 20 incubators and were hand reared using one of the TLC-40’s. These birds will be released back into the wild. 

Victoria said, 'This new equipment has been pivotal to our current successes, the incubators are so user friendly, easy to maintain, and the results speak for themselves. Not only have we successfully hatched the Pink Pigeons but also Mauritius Kestrels and Cuckoo-shrikes have all been hatched using Brinsea incubators and hand reared using the TLC brooders. The new TLC's are very accurate. Environment parameters are easy to establish, and once done, there isn’t any fluctuation in temperature, basically what you ask for, is what they provide!'

In the weeks and months to follow, it is hoped the new incubators and brooders will play a vital role in hatching and rearing other endangered Mauritian endemics such as the Mauritius White Eye. The entire project aim, is to conserve Mauritian endemic bird species, many of which are now endangered due to various reasons, one of which is the predation of eggs and chicks, therefore to harvest eggs from the wild, hatch and hand rear the resulting chicks and release back into the wild is having a major impact on numbers, which are increasing every year.

Brinsea machines are playing their own small part in helping these beautiful species of bird to recover from near extinction.

Andy Woolham
Team Manager of Parrots and Penguins, Chester Zoo