Page last updated at 12:53 GMT, Thursday, 4 February 2010

'Parents' needed for crane chicks at Slimbridge

Suited crane expert
The suits are designed to stop chicks getting used to humans

Two bird experts are being sought to "parent" up to 30 crane chicks at a nature reserve in Gloucestershire.

Wild crane eggs are being brought under licence from Germany to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) at Slimbridge.

The chosen aviculturists will have to wear specially-designed suits to interact with the young, so they do not get used to humans.

The chicks will be taught survival skills including how to find food and defend themselves against predators.

The project is part of a breeding programme at Slimbridge to boost the common crane population across the UK.

The full-time job involves incubating, hatching and rearing the birds.

Autumn release

Once the chicks are about 12 weeks old, they will be transported with their "parents" to a specially-built enclosure on the Somerset Levels and moors, where they will be released into the wild in the autumn.

The aviculturists' parenting role will continue as they carry out scientific monitoring, survey and research activities and public engagements.

The project is a follow-on from the trust's "crane school", a similar scheme where visitors were able to disguise themselves to get close up to the chicks.

The school has been suspended for a time, because experts felt minimal human contact was vital to the success of the breeding programme.

Visitors will still be able to learn about the project, but most of the rearing work will now be done behind the scenes.

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Gloucester Gazette Wanted: 'Parents' to rear wild crane chicks - 26 hrs ago

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