Storks have been a part of San Diego Zoo Global’s bird collection since our early years, when we started with marabou and jabiru storks. Today, between the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, we have 10 stork species represented in our collection. The Storm’s storks and shoebills are the rarest we have.
It was a great honor when Malaysia’s Zoo Negara sent us two pairs of Storm’s storks in 1994 with hopes that we could successfully apply our stork-breeding expertise to these rare birds. In 2001, when the storks matured, we welcomed four chicks from two different clutches, the first breeding of this species in North America.
We do everything we can to replicate our storks’ natural habitat. Our care techniques are always improving as we strive to meet the birds’ needs. The Safari Park is one of only four zoos in the country to breed saddlebill storks, and there are fewer than 10 shoebill storks in the United States, half of which are at the Park. In June 1994, the Park became the first zoo to breed the African open-bill stork.
The future for storks is precarious. Stork populations are decreasing in numbers because of habitat loss, pesticide usage, and poaching. Storks are diverse and unique, and they are dependent on marshlands for their survival. As they are so recognizable, they are an excellent flagship group of birds. Saving stork habitat will also protect other flora and fauna that use the marshlands.