What a Zoo: Artificial Incubation

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - For the most part, the birds at the Toledo Zoo incubate their own eggs after laying them. But sometimes, that doesn't happen, and the birds might abandon their eggs instead of caring for them. That's when zookeepers step in.

Chuck Serbini, Curator of Birds, explains, "We can pull the egg, and we can artificially incubate the egg ourselves. In some scenarios, we can return the egg to the parents and they can raise the chick, but that doesn't always work."

It's a common practice for zoos across the country, and an important one.

Zookeepers take care of nearly 700 birds at the Toledo Zoo, so chuck says that they usually have eggs being artificially incubated.

An important part of artificial incubation: candling.

Serbini tells 13abc, “That's basically where you take a high-powered light in a dark room and you shine it through the eggshell. Most avian eggshells are thin enough that you can see through it, and that's how we actually monitor the development of the embryos growing inside the egg. If that embryo doesn't develop the right way through incubation, it might have trouble hatching. And then we will either have to help them, or they may not hatch successfully."