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Pirate herons raid fish from Vienna Zoo
Tiergarten Schönbrunn/CEN

Pirate herons raid fish from Vienna Zoo

The Local · 18 May 2016, 12:23

Published: 18 May 2016 12:23 GMT+02:00

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In recent years Schönbrunn Zoo in the heart of Vienna has undergone substantial modifications to make the enclosures as natural as possible for the animal residents.

It includes a spectacular pond surrounded by huge trees for the zoo's pelicans and cormorants. All the captive birds have had their wings clipped, meaning there are unable to fly.

But the pair of grey herons which can fly have apparently decided that the huge trees and the abundant supply of fish being left for the birds made it the perfect place for them to also set up home.

As a result the birds have built a nest and have now hatched out three chicks in the tree above where the storks and cormorants are swimming on the water below.

Settling in at the zoo. Photo: Joe Golder/CEN

And when it's feeding time, the herons fly down to help themselves to the best fish from their captive relatives.

A zoo spokesman said they were happy to help out, saying: "Three chicks is actually a lot of work for the parents. They need to be fed something every two hours. We don't mind sparing the odd fish to help them out."

The chicks in the meantime are now so large that they can easily be seen by zoo visitors, providing an added attraction for the zoo regarded as one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city.

The grey heron is a large wading bird which can grow up to a metre tall and weigh anything between 1 and 2 kg.

In Ancient Egypt, the deity Bennu was depicted as a heron and in Ancient Rome, the heron was a bird of divination. Roast heron was once a specially-prized dish; when George Neville became Archbishop of York in 1465, four hundred herons were served to the guests.

Story courtesy of Central European News

Story continues below…

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the birds as storks, rather than herons.  We apologise for any confusion caused by our ornithological inexactitude.

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