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ZOO ATLANTA WELCOMES NEW WHITE STORKS

Zoo Atlanta welcomes two exciting new members to its animal population: Betty and Vanna the white storks. The storks, who are 4-year-old sisters, were recommended to move to Atlanta by an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) program.

White storks are large birds, with wingspans up to and exceeding six feet, and stand up to three and a half feet tall. These opportunistic carnivores are a migratory species, spending part of their year on their European and Asian breeding grounds and migrating to their winter grounds in the fall. The majority of the European birds migrate to Africa in the winter.

“We’re excited to welcome such a charismatic bird species to Zoo Atlanta. This is a great example of the many ways Species Survival Plans work,” said Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, Vice President of Collections and Conservation. “While this species will not be breeding here at the Zoo, we play a role by housing these two individuals, thus making more spaces and resources available to other organizations with established breeding programs. We look forward to introducing Betty and Vanna to our Members and guests.”

The white stork is believed to be the inspiration for the legend of the stork delivering babies. Their appearance is typical of what many people call to mind when they think of “The Stork” – their bodies are white to off-white, with black primary feathers on their wings and red legs. In Europe, white storks often traditionally nested on the tops of buildings, and still do in some areas.

White storks are not currently endangered, with population numbers slightly increasing, but they are potentially subject to the same threats faced by all bird species relying on bodies of water. These include habitat loss and degradation of wetland environments; draining of wet meadows; the building of dams; and other human development.

Betty and Vanna may now be seen in their habitat in the Zoo’s Orkin Children’s Zoo. Learn more about their species or plan a visit at zooatlanta.org.

Zoo Atlanta is open daily with new protocols and procedures in place to promote wellness, including timed ticketing; hand-sanitizing stations throughout grounds; and signage and other aids to encourage social distancing. Masks are required for ages 2 and up for general admission and all in-Zoo experiences.

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl