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The stork: origin of a legend  

The Bird Department has two new arrivals! I don’t know about you, but when I hear that phrase my mind immediately goes to babies, and I picture the classic stork carrying a new bundle of joy. Where did that classic image come from? We’ll get to that, but for now back to the new arrivals. No, it’s a not babies, but we do have the storks! White storks to be exact. Meet our two new lovely ladies Betty White stork and Vanna White stork. You can see these 4-year old sisters in the Outback Station area across from the alpacas. In the wild, white storks inhabit a large range including parts of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. They prefer open wetlands and savannas and temperatures that are not too hot and not too cold. They’re starting to sound a lot like another classic tale. Goldilocks, anyone? But Betty and Vanna would not enjoy that porridge; they are carnivorous. They forage around in search of worms, bugs, small mammals, and reptiles. They’ll eat anything!

Now that we know a little bit about these beautiful girls, let’s get back to that legend about storks delivering babies. Where in the world did that come from? This legend most likely originated in Europe where the storks spend their breeding season and stems from their migration pattern. In medieval times, couples would often marry during the summer solstice, believing that summer was the time of fertility. This is also the time white storks start their migration south to spend the winter months in the warmer African climate. Coincidentally, the storks would return to Europe nine months later for breeding season, which coincides with a lot of those honeymoon babies being born. Hence, the connection was made that storks brought babies and a legend was born!    

Monica H.
Lead Keeper, Birds

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