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Remember Seymour the adorable shoebill stork chick? Seymour was released into the Chikuni area of the Bangweulu Wetlands in Zambia on the 26th of December 2014.

shoebill stork inBangweulu Wetlands
© Bangweulu Wetlands / African Parks

The shoebill was raised by the African Parks management team in the wetlands, and is now flourishing, along with the other estimated 200 shoebills storks in the Bangweulu Wetlands ecosystem.

shoebill stork
© Bangweulu Wetlands / African Parks

Contrary to European folklore that the stork brings the baby, a concerned citizen brought the shoebill chick to the Bangweulu Wetlands Project in August last year. Craig and Andrea Reid, managers at Bangweulu, adopted Seymour, and instead of letting him (or her?) grow up thinking he was a human the couple opted to turn themselves into sheet-and-sock wearing shoebill so Seymour could one day fledge the nest as a wild bird.

© African Parks/Bangweulu Wetlands
© Bangweulu Wetlands/ African Parks

Seymour had a few ‘test releases’ to stretch his wings and see what life in the wild was all about. According to Andrea Reid, Seymour looked a little out of sorts when he found himself outside his enclosure instead of in it.

The shoebill was released into an area with permanent water and a consistent food source under the watchful eye of the fisheries guards. The fisheries guards regulate fishing activities, quotas and help fishermen understand the fishing regulations of the wetland. Since they were already operating in the swamps, the team decided to use them to monitor Seymour as well. The guards were able to report that the shoebill was happily sustaining itself on catfish, snakes and frogs.

shoebill stork flying
© Bangweulu Wetlands / African Parks
shoebill stork in Bangweulu Wetlands
© Bangweulu Wetlands / African Parks

Since Seymour’s release he has been exploring his papyrus domain and has been tracked as far as Ngungwa village 5km away!

shoebill stork map
© Bangweulu Wetlands / African Parks

Whether it is Seymour of Seymouress remains to be seen, but hopefully the Bangweulu management team will find out when they become grandparents. Until then they can congratulate themselves on their successful shoebill-parenting skills.

shoebill stork rehabilitation
© Bangweulu Wetlands / African Parks
Shenton Safaris
African Parks

African Parks is a non-profit organisation that takes on total responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments, wildlife organisations and local communities. We operate thirteen national parks in nine countries: Rwanda, Zambia, Mozambique, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Malawi and Benin. Please see www.african-parks.org or visit our Facebook page for more information.