Goliath heron

Source: safaripark.nl and allevogels.nl, photo by Steve Garvie
With a name like that, they must be big. Indeed, the goliath is the world's largest heron, up to a metre and a half tall, and is also referred to as the giant heron. Its habitat is in Central Africa.
These birds are common south of the Sahara; to a lesser extent they are also seen in southwest Asia. Their habitat is lakes, swamps, mangrove wetlands, and sometimes river deltas. The animals live in groups of 5 to 6 birds. Males and females look alike. Their courtship display is loud and results in a few pairings. The female lays 3-5 eggs, which are brooded by both parents. The young hatch after 26 days and are then fed by the parents on their nest for six weeks, and for two weeks after leaving the nest.

The goliath heron eats fish, reptiles, amphibians, small rodents, shellfish and insects: basically whatever they can catch. Prey is swallowed whole, even fish up to 40 cm long.

Worldwide there are only 40 goliath herons in captivity, in thirteen zoos. Six of these animals live in Safaripark Beekse Bergen (Netherlands); one pair had four young this year. The Safaripark is very proud of them.
Photo license: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0