Paignton Zoo is home to the UK’s only pair of oriental white storks (Ciconia boyciana), which are now on-show in the large aviary opposite the entrance to the spider monkey and red panda exhibits. This species is today only endemic to parts of Japan, southeast China and Siberia in Russia.
The female stork has been at the zoo since 2008 and was joined last year by a male stork, who travelled all the way from Japan after a stop in quarantine in Germany, to become part of a hopeful breeding pair.
This large white bird has black-tipped wing feathers, a black beak and red legs, making them very striking. This species is typically a bit larger than the better-known European white stork (Ciconia ciconia), standing at over a metre tall and sporting a wingspan of over two metres in length. Interestingly, storks do not possess a voice box, so cannot make the usual range of sounds that you may expect from a bird. Instead they use ‘beak clacking’ to communicate with each other.
Due to overhunting and habitat loss in their native range, this beautiful species is currently classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.